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General Howard. 
(From a photograph taken upon his retirement from active military duty, November 4, 1894.) 





New York 


Copyright, 1907, by 


















Chapter I. Childhood and Youth 3 

Chapter II. Preparation for College — Monmouth 

and Yarmouth Academies 17 

Chapter III. College Days at Bowdoin — United 
States Military Academy 30 

Chapter IV. Cadet at the United States Military 
Academy 44 

Chapter V. Graduation from the United States 
Military Academy, 1854 — Brevet Second Lieuten- 
ant in Ordnance Department, 1855-56 ... 59 

Chapter VI. In Florida, 1856-57, and the Semi- 
noles 74 

Chapter VII. At West Point as Instructor, 1857- 
1861 — The Outbreak of the Civil War ... 90 


Lieutenant to Major General, and in Command of an 
Independent Army 

Chapter VIII. Colonel of the Third Maine Regi- 
ment — Departure for the Front . . . .111 


Table of Contents 


Chapter IX. En Route to the Front — Passage 
THROUGH Baltimore — Arrival in Washington . . 123 

Chapter X. Camping in Washington — In Command of 
A Brigade 133 

Chapter XI. Battle of Bull Run 146 

Chapter XII. General George B. McClellan and 
the Organization of the Army of the Potomac 166 

Chapter XIII. General E. V. Sumner and My First 
Reconnoissance 180 

Chapter XIV. The Peninsular Campaign Begun — 

Chapter XV. The Battle of Williamsburg . . 213 

Chapter XVI. The Battle of Fair Oaks . . . 227 

Chapter XVII. Second Battle of Bull Run . . 251 

Chapter XVIII. The Battle of South Mountain . 271 

Chapter XIX. The Battle of Antietam — I Succeed 
Sedgwick in Command of a Division .... 286 

Chapter XX. General Burnside Assumes Command 
of the Army of the Potomac 307 

Chapter XXI. Battle of Fredericksburg . . . 327 

Chapter XXII. Battle of Chancellorsville . . 347 

Chapter XXIII. Campaign of Gettysburg . . . 378 

Chapter XXIV. The Battle of Gettysburg Begun . 397 


Table of Contents 


Chapter XXV. The Battle op Gettysburg — The 
Second and Third Day 420 

Chapter XXVI. Transferred to the West — Battle 
OF Wauhatchie 448 

Chapter XXVII. Chattanooga and the Battle of 
Missionary Ridge 471 

Chapter XX VIII. Atlanta Campaign — Battle of 
Dalton-Resaca Begun 499 

Chapter XXIX. Battle of Resaca and the Oosta- 
naula 513 

Chapter XXX. Battle of Cassville .... 528 

Chapter XXXI. Battle of Pickett's Mill . . . 550 

Chapter XXXII. Battle of Kolb's Farm and Ken- 
esaw 571 

Chapter XXXIII. Battle of Smyrna Camp Ground 
— Crossing the Chattahoochee — General John- 
ston Relieved from Command 589 

Chapter XXXIV. Battle of Peach Tree Creek . 608 




General Howard Frontispiece 

From a photograph taken upon his retirement from active 
military duty, November 4, 1894. 

General Howard's Boyhood Home During His Col- 
lege Days 30 

Owned and occupied by his mother, Mrs. Eliza O. Gilmore. 

Brevet Second Lieutenant Howard's Commission 
FROM President Pierce, and Jefferson Davis, 
Secretary of War ........ 60 

Oliver Otis Howard, Colonel Third Maine Regi- 
ment, United States Volunteers, 1861 . . .112 

Oliver O. Howard, Brigadier General United States 
Volunteers, 1861, with His Adjutant General, 
Fred. D. Sewall 170 

Major General Howard's Commission from Presi- 
dent Lincoln 318 

Major General Howard 448 

From a photograph taken after the battle of Gettysburg. 

Major General Howard's Headquarters, Lookout 
Mountain, Tennessee, January 1, 1864 . . . 494 








TT is difficult for the human mind to determine what 
■'■ is its earliest recollection. Connected with the 
place where I was born, the remembrance that is most 
distinct is of an occurrence which took place when I 
was three years old. There is a dreamy sensation 
connected with the preceding, and with much of that 
which was subsequent to this one event. 

My parents lived in a large, plain, two-story frame 
house, facing toward a north and south road about a 
quarter of a mile westward from it. The front hall 
on the west side was remarkable for the broad frieze 
extending around it, on which was inscribed in plain 
letters, near the ceiling, the name of my grandfather, 
Seth Howard, repeated as often as necessary to the 
completion of the border. The kitchen part, the sheds, 
the corn building, and the barn began at the north- 
east corner of the house and extended in broken lines 
to the orchard. The main house had upon it a roof 
comparatively flat, with a small portion fenced in at 
the crest by a balustrade. The house was upon the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

northern slope of " the great hill " of Leeds. With its 
tall chimneys, its balustrade, its white color, and green 
blinds, the structure was as noticeable as a lighthouse 
upon a promontory. It was seen and known for miles 
around as the residence of Captain Seth Howard. 

At that time the family consisted of my father 
(Rowland Bailey Howard), my mother, and my grand- 
father, who was a little past seventy. 

Occasionally a neighbor, assisting father in the 
work of the farm, sat at our table, but habitually we 
four made up the household. 

During the winter, probably in February, 1834, 
just before night set in, I was looking out of the south 
window of mother's sitting room and saw something 
new and startling to me. It was a team of horses 
hauling a pung with high, brightly painted sides. Just 
above the pung body on a cross box were seated two 
men, warmly dressed, having on mufflers, fur caps, and 
mittens. One of them was driving the horses. Open- 
mouthed sleigh bells were attached to the shafts. The 
team stopped near our side door, the driver gave his 
reins to the other man, and ran up to the house and 
knocked. My father went out to meet him, and after 
a little conversation the horses were taken from the 
pung, properly stabled, and the men came in and took 
supper with the family. I was permitted to sit up 
during that memorable evening, being too excited to 
think of sleep. 

In the front hall my father's cornsheller was 
placed. Why it was put there that night I never could 
tell. There was a bin of unshelled corn in the north- 
west room where stood my mother's loom and all that 
belonged to it, not used in the winter. The corn on 
the cob was brought and put through the machine, 


Childhood and Youth 

one of the men turning the crank and the other feed- 
ing it in. I saw the cobs fly in one direction, the dust 
in another, and the shelled corn fall into its proper 
receptacle. It was put into bags and carried out 
every now and then by the men and emptied into the 
body of the pung. This went on till that singular 
sleigh was heavily loaded. 

After this operation, so absorbing to a child, we all 
gathered in the sitting room, where a table was spread 
with refreshments. There was a cheerful fire in the 
old-fashioned fire-frame. As the party drew their 
chairs in social order so as to look at the fire, every- 
thing appeared unusually pleasant, and I am sure that 
my grandfather and one of the strangers had lighted 
their pipes. My father said, as his curious little boy 
was noticed : " Otis, you must speak your piece. Step 
up on the bench there beside the door." 

I did so. My father then said : " Now, Otis, make 
your bow and go on." 

I did the best I could and stammered through that 
wonderful speech which children learn without know- 
ing for many years its meaning : 

You'd scarce expect one of my age 
To speak in public on the stage, 
And if I chance to fall below 
Demosthenes or Cicero, 
Don't view me with a critic's eye, 
But pass my imperfections by. 

This was the event, and the whole sweet picture of 
it is still before me, more than seventy years after its 

Grandfather, with his thin, silvery hair and very 
genial face, was already infirm with age. He helped 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

mother about the house more than he did father in the 
farm work, yet he did many chores in the woodhouse 
and in the garden and around the barn, which gave 
father hours of time. My father, a man about five 
feet eleven in height, with dark-brown hair and sandy 
whiskers, which he wore at the sides of his face, was 
not very strong and often tortured with rheumatic 
attacks, yet he resolutely did the farm work. To me 
now it is wonderful how much he accomplished in the 
course of a year, for the winter never set in till the 
cellar was well replenished with meat, vegetables, and 
fruit, ample for a comfortable living and sufficient 
for our wants. 

Coming with his young wife to his father in Leeds, 
Me., some four years before, he had succeeded in 
freeing the farm from a heavy mortgage and in giving 
support to all his household. 

That farm, nearly half of which was wood and 
pasture land, did not exceed eighty acres. We had 
several cows, a yoke of oxen, and between fifty and 
sixty sheep. We raised hens and turkeys in sufficient 
numbers for our home use, and had also a beautiful 
apple orchard, which never failed the family in its 

My father's fondness for horses helped increase 
his income. He would buy up six or eight, as many 
as his stables would hold, and train them carefully, 
feeding them well for a few months, then lead or drive 
them to the nearest market. He succeeded in this 
trading so well that he was able to clear the farm of 
its obligation sooner than he could have done by the 
ordinary profits from the crops. 

I love to think of my father and to remember how 
fond he was of music and how sweetly he played of 


Childhood and Youth 

an evening upon his flute, while my mother and some- 
times others sang to this accompaniment. He was 
fond of books, and poetry was his delight. To me he 
seemed, as a rule, stern and unbending, but I am sure 
from what many have told me that there was never 
a man prouder of his children or more faithful to them 
during his short life. 

My grandfather, Captain Seth Howard, was, next 
to my mother, my favorite companion. His usual 
stories concerned the Revolutionary War, in which 
he had served, during the last part, as a private. 
Subsequently during Indian troubles he obtained the 
rank of captain in the militia. He was born in Bridge- 
water, Mass., and was known as " Captain Seth 
Howard " in Massachusetts, as in Maine after his 
migration to that State, which was on his arrival but 
a province, a part of Massachusetts. His father was 
Jesse Howard, who at the breaking out of the Revo- 
lutionary struggle entered the service against the 
British as a lieutenant in Captain Ames's company; 
he was subsequently a captain himself, according to 
the Bridge water record. 

Tracing the family back through three generations 
beyond Jesse, we find John Howard, who was an aide 
and helper to Miles Standish. This John Howard 
came from England to America shortly after the 
arrival of the Mayflower. If a Howard can trace his 
relatives in the line of heredity to Bridgewater, he is 
almost sure to belong to the very numerous family of 
which John Howard was the progenitor. The English 
connection is not so very clear and to me it does not 
seem important. It is, however, a source of gratifica- 
tion to a man to find his family tree representing men 
exceptionally industrious and respectable. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

A little later, during that same winter of the corn- 
shelling incident, another event impressed me. Early 
one day my mother dressed me and herself with warm 
wraps and we joined my father in his sleigh. The 
weather was exceedingly cold, so that to keep me from 
being nipped with the frost I was made to sit down 
on a little bench under the " buffalo." I am confident 
that there was a piece of oak wood there which had 
been pre\'iously heated before the fireplace. It kept 
my mother's feet warm and was a comfort to me, so 
that I soon fell asleep. When I wakened we had 
reached the lake, then called Wayne Pond, and were 
riding across it on the ice. The crushing of the snow, 
the sound of the bells, and the peculiar gliding motion 
of the sleigh have left their impression upon my 

Just at dark we stopped at a tavern in New Sharon. 
My mother and I entered the tavern through a dark 
entry. The office room was heated by an old-fash- 
ioned Franklin stove and we went to it to get warm, 
for in spite of all precautions we were chilled by the 

My mother not noticing me, I started back to join 
my father and opened the door, as I supposed, into 
the dark entry, but it proved to be the cellar way, 
equally dark. I rolled down the stairs from top to 
bottom, making my nose bleed and bruising my fore- 
head, but without much other damage. A tall man 
came and picked up the little bundle of a boy and 
brought him to his mother. Just then my father came 
in, and I never quite forgave him for reproving my 
mother for not having taken better care of Otis. In- 
deed, Otis was wholly to blame. 

The next day we proceeded to Bangor, Me. There 


Childhood and Youth 

two things occurred which have become part of my 
life. One was the impression produced by Mrs. Eich- 
mond's large music box that she wound up several 
times for my benefit, and the other was a misfortune 
which I had while playing with a little girl about my 
age. I shut the door upon her fingers, without mean- 
ing to do so, nearly crushing them. A young man 
with a stiff leg, supporting himself on crutches, rushed 
upon me, seized me, gave me a shaking, and a good 
scolding. My heart was broken already when he came 
because of the afflicting accident. Imagine then my 
complete prostration and long sobbing after the chas- 
tisement. Surely I learned a wholesome life lesson 
from that occurrence. 

In the summer of 1834, when I was four years of 
age, I began to go to the district school, nearly one 
mile south of our home. From that time I continued, 
summer and winter, to attend till my father's death, 
which occurred during the spring after I was nine 
years of age. This school-going was a marked period 
in my boyhood life. We had a change of teachers each 
summer and winter term, and I recall to-day the names 
and faces of those teachers. 

When there were fifty or sixty scholars and the 
school was not graded, it was an exceedingly hard 
task which any teacher had to so arrange that every 
scholar should have an opportunity to receive his 
personal instruction in some branch of the curriculum. 
Eeading, writing, and spelling were for all. Geogra- 
phy, arithmetic, and English grammar were for those 
who were advanced enough to be classified in these 
branches. I was fond of my teachers, and remember 
distinctly that I could be governed by kindness and 
by praise, interspersed with an occasional punishment. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

One of my earliest instructors was Ben Murray. 
To keep me out of mischief he would take me and 
put me in his lap and let me play with his watch chain. 
A little later Elizabeth Moore would try to shame me 
by making me sit with the big girls. Hannah Knapp, 
on one occasion, kept me in at recess on a back seat. 
Here I shed some tears and meanwhile surreptitiously 
drew out the ginger cake from my dinner, which had 
been placed for safety on the little shelf below the 
desk. I had hard work to eat the dry cake for the 
crying and the scattering of the crumbs from my over- 
full cheeks. 

Thomas Bridgham, one winter, was obliged to pun- 
ish me with the ferule, giving several smart slaps 
upon the palm of the hand, because I went off with 
some other boys at recess to search for spruce gum 
and did not return in time. 

Indeed, I had learned to read by my mother's care 
before the first school, and progress was always steady 
and rapid enough. As a lad I was not complained of 
for want of quickness or intelligence. 

The larger schooling came from the outside, from 
the three-score of boys and girls with whom I asso- 
ciated. Scarcely one of them is alive to-day. There 
were among the boys those who had every charac- 
teristic of sturdy New England lads. As a rule, the 
roughest plays were our delight, and I had a very 
early ambition to be a leader. Eufus Knapp was at 
least sixteen when I was eight, jovial with the younger 
boys, but huge in size, strong and sinewy as an ath- 
lete. I used to combine my forces from the small boys 
and lead them to attack him simply with a view of 
throwing him to the ground. I would first dive for 
his legs, and no matter how much I was bruised I 


Childhood and Youth 

led those attacks with success. Rufus never was 
angry and laughed at the rest of us when we piled 
upon his prostrate form and held his arms and legs. 

On one occasion something that has been a char- 
acteristic in later life showed itself. Several boys 
were on their way to school. There had been a freshet, 
and the deep ditches were full of water. At one place 
there was quite an excavation comparatively full. 
The surface in the early morning was skimmed over 
with thin ice. Henry Millet, one of the companions 
of about my age, called out and said : " Ote, you dasn't 
slide across that ditch ! " As quick as thought I sprang 
forward and started to slide. When I reached the 
middle I went through to my neck in the cold water. 
Of course I sprang out as quickly as I went in, but I 
had to go on to school drenched to the skin. Indeed, 
all my life it has been hard for me to resist a challenge. 

The year I began school my brother Eowland was 
born. Just after he was old enough to accompany 
me the fearful excitement attending the settlement of 
the northeast boundary came to a head. With other 
lads we ran from school to find the Leeds Company 
drilling with fifes and drums in Mr. Millet's large 
front yard. On arriving we were delighted with the 
beautiful uniforms and bright plumes of the company 
and excited as boys always are by the music. This 
was a new experience. Suddenly one of the boys told 
us that our father, Rowland B. Howard, had been 
drafted and would have to go to war. Little Rowland 
and I ran home sobbing and crying, not half under- 
standing what the thing meant. Our mother soon 
explained that father accepted the draft, but on ac- 
count of his rheumatism would send a substitute. 
He did so. The substitute's name was George Wash- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ington George. He was cross-eyed, but avoided the 
examining surgeon, declaring that he could shoot as 
well as anybody by closing one eye. George's full 
equipment in the old style, with the flint-lock musket 
and all that went with it, so much interested me that 
I have never forgotten any article of its make-up. 

The so-called war was brief, for the controversy 
was settled by General Winfield Scott in 1838 before 
there was any actual exchange of shots. This was 
called the " Madawaska War." 

Before I was six years old my father, having some 
business in the valley of the Hudson, made quite a long 
visit among his mother's relatives, living there. My 
grandmother's name was Desire Bailey, a sister of Dr. 
Eowland Bailey. On my father's return he passed 
through the city of Troy. For some benevolent reason 
he there befriended a little negro lad and brought him 
to our house in Leeds, Me. I remember well the night 
the boy first made his appearance in the household. 
His large eyes, white teeth, woolly head, and dark skin 
kept my eyes fixed upon him for some time, while my 
father was telling the story of his advent. This boy 
lived with us for four years. As he was vigorous and 
strong we had our plays together. The coasting, the 
skating, the ball playing, the games with marbles and 
with kites — all such things found us adepts. Also in 
work, such as comes to every New England farm lad, 
we toiled side by side, or at our respective stints in 
which we competed for success and finish. Edward 
Johnson, for that was his name, was always kind to 
me, and helpful. Indeed, I never remember quarreling 
with him, but he was never cringing or slavish. I have 
always believed it a providential circumstance that I 
had that early experience with a negro lad, for it re- 


Childhood and Youth 

lieved me from that feeling of prejudice which would 
have hindered me from doing the work for the freed- 
men which, years afterwards, was committed to my 

In the year 1838 my younger brother, Charles, was 

In the early settlement of Leeds, before there were 
any school privileges, Mr. Francis, a young English- 
man, came with a party of prospectors from England. 
They were entertained by my great - grandfather, 
Thomas Stanchfield. After leaving his home, situ- 
ated then in a wilderness near the eastern border 
of Leeds, the party kept on westward. iVfter a few 
days, Mr. Francis, much broken and bruised by the 
journey, returned alone and accepted the offer of Mr. 
Stanchfield to remain and teach the children of the 
scattered families in that section of Maine. At a later 
period, seeing the moral and religious condition of this 
frontier, he began to give religious instruction to the 
adults as well as to the children, and was soon after 
ordained as the first Baptist minister in that commu- 
nity. He was still preaching in the meetinghouse be- 
fore mentioned when my father and mother were young 
people. Through his influence and that of other min- 
isters who followed him, a thriving church resulted, 
and the community of Leeds, far and near, became re- 
markable in its attention to religious matters. 

Into this atmosphere I was born. In a letter writ- 
ten by my mother, which lies before me, of date July 
14, 1833, I find not only expressions of deep affection 
for her husband and her then only son, but utterances 
which indicate piety and a simple trust in God, and 
also express a proper ambition subdued by humility of 
heart. She wrote : 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

I think if we cannot fill so high a station in life as we 
could desire, we may possibly do as much good in some less 
exacting situation. Our children, though humbly educated, 
may fill important stations in life. Let us hope for the best 
and bear with patience whatever crosses our path in life. 

At the church on Sunday there was preaching in 
the morning and in the afternoon. During the recess 
between the sermons the children were gathered into 
a Sunday school. Deacon Cobb had six or eight of us 
boys shut into one of those old-fashioned pews with 
back and front and door so high that we could not look 
out of the pew when on the floor. The usual routine 
was to recite verses previously learned at home. My 
parents must have been very faithful in having me pre- 
pare my lessons, for I committed to memory a great 
deal of Scripture about that time that has since been 
of great service to me. There was no sign of religious- 
ness in my first home. We did not even have family 
prayer. Once during my father's illness I came from 
a prayer meeting at my uncle's house much impressed 
with a desire to be a Christian. My father, sitting in 
his high-backed chair, asked me about the meeting. 
After telling him, I said, '■ Father, do you ever pray? " 

He was silent for a few moments and then said: 
" My son, would you like to have me pray? " 

I said " yes " and we knelt together beside his chair 
and he repeated our Lord's Prayer. This was the only 
time that I heard my father thus offer a petition. My 
mother, however, had taught me the simple prayers of 
childhood and rendered me familiar with Bible stories 
too early in my life for distinct recollection. 

One Sunday morning I was keeping the cattle out 
of the upper grain field. The wind was blowing hard 


Childhood and Youth 

from the west. Just before church time my father 
called for me at the top of his voice, using all his 
strength to make me hear. At last I saw him and 
faintly heard his call and ran home at once. He told 
me to get ready for meeting. The meetinghouse was 
on the southern slope of the great hill, about two miles 
away. My father had been rebuilding the church edi- 
fice for the people and was much interested in it and 
in the meetings. I begged to be allowed to stay at 
home that day. My father, mother, and brother went 
and left me behind. Early in the afternoon they came 
back. Sitting in the church my father had been at- 
tacked with a sudden hemorrhage of the lungs, due un- 
doubtedly to the strain of his morning call to me 
against the wind. He was never well again, and on 
April 30, 1840, he died. The scene at his death has 
always appeared to me to be a tragic one — the hemor- 
rhage, the cries of my mother, and the tearful friends 
gathered around his bed. It was indeed my first idea 
of a death scene. 

The whole ceremony following was like that in a 
country place in New England where one is taken away 
who is much respected and beloved by his neighbors. 
Every office from the undertaker to the bearers and 
the burial party was filled by a kind friend and late as- 
sociate. The pastor of the Baptist church read the 
hymns and made the prayer, and with trembling voices 
the choir, which had so often sung to his accompani- 
ment with his flute in social entertainments, sang 
precious hymns. 

The family followed the improvised bier which was 
carrying my father to the little graveyard situated on 
the east side of his uncle's farm, and the people in a 
long column of twos and threes followed on in silence 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and gathered aromid the grave, full of kindness and 
respectful bearing, while the last simple rites were 
there performed. 

It was a sad house for my mother and the little boys 
after our return for many days, but my mother did not 
give way to grief so much as not to be able to perform 
the new tasks that devolved upon her, the care of the 
family, and the carrying on of the farm. 

For the first year after father's death my mother 
employed a good strong Englishman to perform the 
farm labor and do anything necessary for our support 
under her supervision. 

My grandfather did not remain with us long, but 
soon went to live with his eldest son, Stillman. 

Two years after, my mother married a prosperous 
farmer. Colonel John Gilmore, living some six miles 
away in the southern part of Leeds. He was a widower 
and had a considerable family of his own. I was 
nearly eleven years of age when we moved to the new 
home. There were three boys. For all of us this mar- 
riage with the removal from the old place began a new 





TAURING the interval between father's death and 
-*^ the marriage of my mother, I had been much 
leaned upon and trusted as the eldest. To harness and 
control a horse attached to a carriage, or to drive one 
or two yoke of oxen, were no uncommon tasks. Of 
course, the praise for this precociousness set me up not 
a little. The new home changed all this. My step- 
father was very kind always and humored my whims ; 
but his youngest son, two years my senior, by his criti- 
cisms and odd speeches soon made me feel that I was 
not yet a man. He evidently meant " to take the con- 
ceit out of Otis." This discipline while I was learning 
and participating in all the farm work, which a lad ten 
years of age could do, was really needed and whole- 
some. But the new conditions and neighborhood asso- 
ciations made my watchful mother very anxious for a 

The first autumn before I was eleven in November, 
she sent me away to a " high school " at "Wayne Vil- 
lage. Improvement in all elementary instruction came 
with these two months. I learned, too, how to live 
away from home without too much homesickness. 

Soon followed another advantage. My mother's 
brother, Hon. John Otis, living in Hallowell, offered 
me a place in his family, if I would do the chores for 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

my board. I was to take care of his horse and cow and 
perform such tasks as the situation might demand. 
The object was to give me the privilege of Mr. Burn- 
ham's High School. These privileges overshadowed 
everything and hindered criticism. 

At Mr. Bumham's I joined a class of six lads of 
about my age. This class was just beginning Latin, 
but the class did not give itself exclusively to this 
study, keeping abreast of others in the books essential 
to a high school graduation. Before the close of the 
two years at Hallowell the teacher had added the ele- 
ments of Greek. The class made considerable progress 
not only in the Latin but in the Greek grammar. It was 
my uncle's wish and my mother's delight that I should 
begin a preparation for college and we had Bowdoin 
College in view. 

At thirteen my health was perfect and Mr. Burn- 
ham chose me with my ruddy cheeks to illustrate 
his talks, as a specimen of a healthful New Eng- 
land boy. 

The home instruction under my Aunt Frances, usu- 
ally given to her son William and daughter Maria 
and myself, embraced everything that was best. She 
read to us by the hour. She saw that we prepared our 
lessons for the Sabbath school at the Old South 
church, and she sympathized with us in our youthful 
troubles that often seemed so hard to bear. Surely I 
was treated by her and by my uncle as a son. 

Again, as always, the outside schooling cannot be 
ignored. I met in the village, and, in fact, at the 
school, a conclave of boys who insisted that I had too 
much pride and it must be taken down. One would in- 
sist that I did not properly pronounce words which 
ended in ow, such as now and cow, and that I could not 


Preparation for College 

properly pronounce such words as round and found. I 
declared that I did pronounce them properly, when a 
sharp contest would often ensue. 

One day I was caught by the arms and legs and hur- 
ried forward to be bumped against a brick wall. I 
cleared myself and fought till one opponent had fallen 
and another been bruised, but one of my eyes was 
swollen and closed. In this plight my aunt was not 
very proud of me and discouraged my strong inclina- 
tion to resist every intrusion. The youngsters, not 
being satisfied with their own efforts to humble me 
and bring me into a proper frame of mind, had a sud- 
den accession to their company of a boy called Joe 
Marshall. He was fourteen or fifteen years old and 
had been to sea in some training ship long enough to 
teach him the skillful use of his arms and fists. On 
one Saturday afternoon as I was working in the gar- 
den a troop of boys came along the street with " Joe " 
at the head. A flat-topped stone wall separated me 
from them. Being near the wall myself I did not wait 
for an attack, but knocked off his cap. With fierce 
anger he sprang over the separating fence and began 
his assault upon me. Understanding the disadvantage 
of fencing with a trained lad, I sprang upon him, lifted 
him in my arms and put him down between a tree and 
the wall and believed that I had gained a victory, but 
Marshall so punched and pulled my nose that it bled 
profusely. As I disengaged myself from this brutal 
fight I set out for the house and saw my uncle and 
aunt on the porch looking at me, and I felt ashamed. 
Some of the boys called out, " Coward ! " but I resisted 
every inclination to turn back to the fight and went to 
the house. My aunt gently chided me for my impul- 
siveness, but my good uncle said, " I glory in your 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

spunk." After that all the boys were on my side and 
I was not further molested. 

Who can say but that this training in a little com- 
munity, which represents the great world, may not 
have been essential to the subsequent work which ne- 
cessitated not only intellectual development but a 
hardy spirit. 

My good mother, however, always leaned to the 
idea that kindness, shown even to enemies, would win 
in time. It may, if not misunderstood, but how often 
kindness is imputed to want of courage. 

There was another proverb that affected me : " Be 
sure you are right and then go ahead." 

While at Hallowell, first my beloved grandfather, 
Captain Seth Howard, passed away at the age of 
eighty-four; and a little later my grandfather, Oliver 
Otis, the noble man for whom I was named. A few 
days before his death I went in to see him. He was 
still able to be dressed and sit in his armchair. He 
called me to him and said, while my right hand rested 
in his, " Otis, always be kind to your employees." I did 
not know then precisely what he meant, because I 
hardly realized the possibility that Otis would ever 
have men under his charge and subject to his will, but 
the message he gave me then has been with me to in- 
fluence my conduct toward the thousands whom I have 
been called upon to command. There has been with 
me a steady purpose to be kind to any and all of those 
who looked to me for direction. 

My grandmother, Elizabeth Stanchfield Otis, was a 
very devout Christian and never neglected an oppor- 
tunity to say something to me that she thought would 
help me to a right purpose in all my undertakings. 

The spring and sommer of 1844, when the political 


Preparation for College 

excitement which preceded the Mexican War was upon 
us and so much interested my stepfather, Colonel Gil- 
more, that he would never miss reading his weekly 
journal, and, of course, needing some time for this, I 
was kept at home. After my return I soon found my- 
self among the working " boys " on his farm. His 
three sons with myself, besides often hired men, were 
admirably led by Colonel Gilmore, who directed all 
from the seed sowing to the harvest. Here follows a 
suggestive schedule which long ago I made of things 

" Spring plowing, harrowing, sowing, bushing, roll- 
ing — this for the grain fields. Dressing, furrowing, 
manuring in the hill, planting the corn and the pota- 
toes. Stones are to be picked up and drawn off, year 
by year; fields are to be cleared, lowlands to be drained, 
fences to be made and kept in repair. There is a hoe- 
ing time when the farmer fights against weeds, this- 
tles, and grasses ; the haying time, mowing, spreading, 
raking, loading, stowing on the cart and in the barn. 
The harvest season closely follows with all its various 
labors. The sheep, the cattle, the pigs, and the fowls 
all demand constant care. The orchards and the gar- 
den cannot be neglected. From the March snows to 
the October frosts the New England farmers keep up 
their unceasing work with only Sundays and a few 
holidays to rest." 

I fell into line and adjusted myself to all this till 
September 1st. It was during that summer when my 
strength for a time became overtasked and I felt jaded. 
The trouble was on account of a foolish ambition. In 
plowing I must hold the plow; in haying swing the 
scythe ; and in loading pitch the hay. I wanted before 
being fully grown and properly developed in sinews 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and muscles to do a grown man's part. After trials 
and some suffering the true lesson was learned, to try 
and do the boy's part well. It was better than to do the 
man's part poorly. 

My good mother went with me to the vicinity of 
Monmouth Academy the day before the beginning of 
the term. My boarding place was already secured at 
the house of Captain Wilcox, a retired sea captain. 
My room was chosen, some j^ictures put on the wall 
and little changes made by my mother to make the 
chamber tidy and cheerful. My mother's injunction as 
she parted with me and set out for home was a mes- 
sage often repeated in her letters through all my school 
and college life, " Do the best you can, Otis, with your 
studies, and try hard to do right, ever seeking God's 
help." Surely with such a mother one ought not to go 

I pursued my preparation for college diligently. 
My Greek as I went on became more and more difficult 
to me; and the principal of the academy, Mr. True, 
began to doubt whether I would have the capacity to 
master the preparatory course in that study. A school- 
mate older than I and of excellent ability and strong 
character, showed me why I was losing ground. It was 
because I sought too much help from translations and 
did not get a sufficient vocabulary in my mind, nor 
trust enough to my memory in the class room, but in- 
terlined my book so as to make a fair showing at the 
academy. On his advice I acted at once and so per- 
severed that by the close of the term my Greek was 
abreast of my Latin, which had never been a hard sub- 
ject to me. 

Here I formed some associations which proved to 
be for life. I had the usual experiences of a very ar- 


Preparation for College 

dent nature with strong attachments and a few antipa- 
thies, and some quarrels not at all to my credit. 

The Monmouth term, however, I can now see car- 
ried me along so that at its close I was far ahead of 
my Hallowell class. 

The following winter there was an excellent 
teacher, Stephen H. Dean, at what we called the brick 
schoolhouse, two miles and a half from our home; 
so, with my mother's strong approval, I went there. 
During this season I boarded part of the time on the 
north road with a Mr. Henry Foster, always returning 
home for Saturday and Sunday. 

It was at this school that I made a very fair review 
of all the studies, excepting the foreign languages, es- 
sential for a Bowdoin examination. Arithmetic and 
algebra were always easy of attainment and a pleas- 
ure, and I began to comprehend better and better all 
that pertained to English grammar. 

We did not have the athletics of to-day, but the 
young men of that school, several older than myself, 
engaged in many a contest. Wrestling at arm's length 
and in close hug were favorite sports. Running, jump- 
ing, snowballing, and ball playing, as soon as practica- 
ble, added to the health and strength of our boys quite 
as much, I think, as the sports of to-day. 

Warren Lothrop, who distinguished himself in 
Mexico and who became a colonel afterwards during 
the Civil War, was then a fellow student. He was 
about twenty years of age and of gigantic frame. 
Henry Mitchell was always his contestant in the 
sports. The latter was light of weight, slight of figure, 
and not so tall as Warren. In wrestling they would 
contend again and again for the mastery, but at last 
by his skill and quickness Henry would lay Warren 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

prostrate at every contest. Then they would both 
laugh, Warren the loudest, though he was defeated. 

In such sports I always bore my part and some- 
times gained the victory. Henry could always throw 
me at arm's length, and on our long walks together 
from the Lothrop home through the storms and snows, 
Warren took a special delight in catching me in his 
strong arms and tossing me into a snow bank. I 
fought hard, and it was not easy for me to keep my 
temper under restraint in defeat. These stout and 
athletic companions, however, in spite of my resist- 
ance, often forced a wholesome lesson of patience and 
self-control upon me. 

My stepfather had a large flock of sheep and there 
was plenty of wool, which in due time was taken to 
Wayne Mills to be worked up into handsome gray 
cloth. By the help of a good tailoress, who periodi- 
cally spent several happy and busy days at our house, 
mother made up for me a suit of gray that fitted me 
well. I remember the trousers flaring a little at the 
bottom, the vest and the coat each having its proper 
braided trimmings. With warm underclothing, a pair 
of roomy boots and home-knitted socks, and with a 
bright comforter around my neck, I did not need an 

My stepfather took me, thus newly attired, in his 
pung from Leeds to North Yarmouth. He used the 
pung so as to transport my small trunk which con- 
tained books and other equipments, such as my mother 
had stowed in it for my use and comfort. 

The long ride with Colonel Gilmore, my stepfather, 
early in March, 1845, was a pleasant and profitable 
journey. The weather was rather cold and blustering 
and the snow still of considerable depth. My step- 


Preparation for College 

father was reminiscent and revealed to me much of his 
past experience in his early life in Massachusetts. He 
made me feel the force of a New England character, 
always upright, industrious, frugal, and usually suc- 
cessful in what he undertook. He was a partisan in 
politics, first a Whig and later a Kepublican, but al- 
ways extremely patriotic and devoted to what he be- 
lieved to be the best interests of his country. He 
strengthened me in my budding convictions of political 
duty, hardly yet blossoming out. I never questioned 
the rightness of the views which he so graphically re- 
vealed on that ride to a lad of fourteen. 

On arriving at North Yarmouth he took me to the 
house of Allan H. Weld, the head of the Classical De- 
partment, who with marvelous brevity assigned me to 
a room in what was called the Commons Building. In 
that building were the classical students and the reci- 
tations for those who were taking the classical course, 
with a few other students who attended the English 
academy near by. The latter was under the super- 
vision of Professor Woods, who a little later became 
the president of the Western University of Pennsyl- 
vania, located at Pittsburg and Allegheny. He devel- 
oped that institution from small beginnings, attained 
a national reputation in educational circles and was, 
as long as he lived, my warm personal friend. 

The next morning after my arrival I sat with a 
class of twelve bright-looking young men facing Mr. 
Weld in a room filled with writing desks. He had be- 
come famous for fitting boys for college. Only one of 
the class, John Bullfinch, of Kennebunk, was younger 
than myself. 

Mr. Weld gave me a searching examination after 
the class had been dismissed, and told me that if I was 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

diligent enough I might possibly enter college in 1846. 
His very manner aroused my ambition and made me 
determine to do everything in my power to accomplish 
that result. 

I had for a roommate John Pettengill, whom I had 
known at the Leeds brick schoolhouse. He belonged to 
the English Department and had studies entirely dif- 
ferent from mine. He was kind and companionable, 
always ready to perform his part in the care of the 
room. The room was small and the Commons a build- 
ing poorly furnished from bottom to top. In the base- 
ment were the kitchen and the dining room. At the 
first meal I found myself at a long table, serving a 
" mess " of some fifteen to twenty young men. One 
was the president of the Commons. With a business- 
like manner he asked a blessing while the students 
were yet standing, then all sat down. Sitting on rough 
benches instead of chairs, we saw before us but little 
table furniture. There were on the board bottles of 
molasses, which was used every day, except Sunday, 
for butter. Loaves of bread were scattered at irregu- 
lar intervals interspersed with some thin slices of cold 
meat. We had water for drink and no tea or coffee; 
these with meats were not allowed at every meal. 

This was my first experience at such a table, and 
it was indeed the most economic of any that ever be- 
fell me. Soldiers would have complained if they had 
had such short rations ; yet the young men were health- 
ful and fairly well contented. It was their own choice 
to be thus frugal. Our mess bill never exceeded $1 per 
week, and sometimes was as low as eighty cents. We 
always had both meat and butter on Sundays. 

My attention was very soon called to the most 
popular and the most singular of our young men. His 


Preparation for College 

reputation as a student was such that I took an early- 
fancy not only to know him, but to see how he made 
such rapid progress. He took very little exercise out 
of doors and that by rapid walking or running by him- 
self. He had a standing desk where he stood when 
not in recitation or at his meals. He could so prolong 
his studies as to do with but five hours' sleep in the 

As I was so anxious to keep up with the advanced 
class which I had entered, I imitated Spencer Wells 
for a part of the time. I took more exercise, but I kept 
myself many hours at the standing desk and I tried 
hard to shorten my sleep. At times I succeeded in get- 
ting along with only five or six hours by a rigid per- 
sistency, and it is a wonder that I did not impair my 

Toward the latter part of the course the students 
of my class, with two or three exceptions, were inclined 
to dissipation. They had all their preparation quite 
complete and to them the review to put on the final 
touches was easy. To me much of it was in advance. 

During the last term I roomed with Arthur Mc- 
Arthur. He was a splendid specimen of a youth, hav- 
ing a perfect physique, with mental talents above the 
ordinary, that is, in the outset, when I first knew him. 
Fearful headaches and depression followed his fre- 
quent indulgences, and I did my best to care for him. 
His example, with that of the more dissipated of the 
young men, was a constant warning to me and I think 
deterred me from giving way in those days to temp- 

The time finally came to take the preparatory ex- 
aminations before entering college on September 1st. 
"We had no railways then. There was a stage line, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

wearisome to boys, between Yarmouth and Brunswick. 
McArthur proposed to me to hire a chaise and take the 
ride comfortably, remain in Brunswick till after the 
examinations at Bowdoin, and then return to Yar- 
mouth to take our final leave of that institution. There 
was a tavern at the halfway house, in front of which 
was a half hogshead, which was full and running over 
with fresh water. Arthur sprang out to let down the 
check rein that the horse might drink. He had been 
meditating upon getting a drink of whisky at this tav- 
ern and had reasoned with me about it. His reasons 
for urging me to join him were the common ones: 
" Howard, you are ambitious, you would like to make 
something of yourself in the future ; you do not expect 
to do it without ever taking a glass of liquor, do you? " 
I answered that I did not see what the taking of a glass 
of liquor had to do with the subject. Then he gave me 
the names of several public men of distinction, both 
State and national; he said they all drank and in his 
judgment drink helped them to their greatness. I an- 
swered that I did not care to be great and that I was 
already on a pledge to my mother and would not drink. 
I recall this instance only to show how I felt with re- 
gard to strong drink at that period of my life. 

Before we graduated from Bowdoin Arthur Mc- 
Arthur had so suffered from drink that he had hard 
work to secure his diploma. The eminence and worthi- 
ness of his father, who had graduated years before 
from Bowdoin, pleaded strongly for him. 

The entrance examination was held in what was 
then the medical college building, where Professor 
Cleveland gave his lectures on chemistry, mineralogy, 
and astronomy. 

Professor Boody, who taught composition and elo- 


Preparation for College 

cution and sometimes Latin in the college, met us 
young men at the hall door and took us into a grew- 
some sort of room where there were a few chairs and 
every sort of article from specimen boxes and chemi- 
cal retorts to articulated skeletons. Here we were ex- 
amined in everything required. I succeeded very well 
in my reading and translations and in my mathemat- 
ics, but was conditioned upon scanning. That I had 
never studied, so I could not scan at all from Virgil 
or the Odyssey. I think, too, that I was a little weak 
in the line of Greek roots, still my heart was filled with 
intense satisfaction when I found that I was to enter 
with the class. I have passed through many ordeals 
since then, but I do not think that any of them im- 
pressed me more than that preliminary examination. 
I was fifteen years old at that time. 





AFTER rising every day except Sundays for three 
weeks at four o'clock and continuing work until 
near midnight during the tinal preparation for college ; 
and after the subsequent trying examinations early in 
September, one may imagine, weariness and apathy 
succeeded. I was glad enough to get home to my 
friends and have a short vacation. The good air, the 
good water, and the wholesome food at home soon re- 
stored me to my normal condition, and father took me 
to Bowdoin for the fall term, which at that time com- 
menced during the last week in September. 

Soon after reaching Bowdoin, before I was fairly 
settled in my college room in the south end of North 
Hall, I met a young man, Peleg Sprague Perley, who 
had belonged to the previous freshman class, but being 
kept away by illness so much of the year he had con- 
cluded to join the class to which I belonged. He was a 
year my senior in age, and his mother had been in early 
life my mother's neighbor and school friend, so we 
readily formed an acquaintance and agreed to room 
together. He was about my height, with a fair 
physique, but one hardly strong enough in our trying 
climate to give him the endurance which his mental 
capacity and his ambitions demanded. He had a large 
head and a very active brain. In the languages no 















h- 1 






















College Days at Bowdoin 

man could excel him, but in anything akin to mathe- 
matics he had a hard struggle. In these respects he 
was the reverse, or I might say the complement, of my- 
self. To me mathematical studies were easy and a 
pleasure and the languages not so readily mastered. 
We two roomed together during our entire college 
course. We became fast friends and always exchanged 
confidences. During the first term at Bowdoin we 
were, I may say, " broken in " to systematic study. 
The daily routine embraced " Livy " under Professor 
Upham, a continuance of the " Odyssey " under Pro- 
fessor Packard, and algebra under Prof. William 
Smyth. At least once a week every member of our 
class was obliged to " declaim " before the class under 
the supervision of Professor Boody. He also caused 
every student to write themes, which must fill at least 
two pages of foolscap. 

Professor Boody took great pains with our speak- 
ing, endeavoring to train us in the right way in all that 
pertained to elocution. He was equally careful in re- 
viewing and correcting our compositions. 

One of the professors was always present in the 
" Old Chapel " where all the students met at dawn for 
prayers, and President Leonard Woods presided at 
the evening chapel exercises; his singularly sonorous 
voice so impressed every student that he never forgot 
it nor the dignified lessons which came gently yet forci- 
bly from his lips. 

As I run over my college diary, and letters which 
I wrote to my mother and which she always preserved 
with care, prizing them far beyond their merits, I see 
the glaring faults of composition in, first, the gradual 
but slow emancipation from the stiffness of para- 
graphs, from the stilted manner of conducting a cor- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

respondence, and from the use of words that hardly 
conveyed the meaning intended, to a freer and easier 

Herein I discover something of the great benefit to 
a young man taking a classical course simply in this 
line of review and examination. I realize now the 
fidelity of our professors, and rejoice in the unfailing 
personal supervision which they gave to the work of 
every student under their charge. Our studies went 
on to embrace the entire course of four years. No im- 
portant department was neglected. We had not only 
the dead languages, but considerable instruction in 
French and German. Attention to chemistry, miner- 
alogy, geology, and astronomy was abreast of that in 
any college. The harder studies which pertained to 
metaphysics, such as Butler's " Analogy," Paley's 
" Evidences," and Upham's " Moral Philosophy " were 
explained by the teachers and mastered by the stu- 

I feel that I was too young and had too poor a 
preparation to receive all the benefit that was needful, 
or the help and discipline which came to many of my 
classmates who were older and more mature before 
entering college, but, after all, this classical training 
was for me in every way a good foundation for my sub- 
sequent professional life and for the various require- 
ments of what followed in my career. Indeed, I count 
the great gain of a college course to be the impression 
made upon the character of a young man, first, by the 
professors, and then by daily intercourse with the 

President Leonard "Woods, by his example, earnest, 
dignified, and sincere, always exacted a high standard 
of deportment. His corrections were given with such 


College Days at Bowdoin 

fidelity and kindness that a student was never discour- 
aged, but rather stimulated by them to do better. 

Prof. Thomas C. Upham, a tall man of sixty with 
head modestly drooping, sat at his desk and reasoned 
with any delinquent lad in such a fatherly way that 
even the boy's wrongdoing seemed to be a source of 
drawing him nearer to a fatherly heart; though the 
professor had, without any severity of manner or 
method, a way of getting from a youth anything he 
wanted to know. In spite of his modesty and retiring 
disposition, scarcely able to give an address on his 
feet, Professor Upham was a natural and polished 

Prof. A. S. Packard differed from the others. He 
had a fine figure, was very handsome, and wore a pair 
of gold spectacles ; his hair and clothing were always 
in perfect condition. He was quick to see a student's 
fault and sometimes corrected it with severity, some- 
times wittily, but he conveyed the impression of the 
highest order of gentility. He was, in fact, the stu- 
dent's beau ideal of a Christian gentleman. 

When we came to modern languages we had Pro- 
fessor Goodwin, whose mind was replenished with 
knowledge and so clear cut in its action that every stu- 
dent felt at once his superiority. He was quick-tem- 
pered and at times irascible, and resented any at- 
tempted humor on the part of a pupil ; but the lessons 
he gave were settled in his own mind, and the student 
could not well forget them. Besides his teaching the 
languages, he often gave us brief historical lectures of 
a high order. 

Professor Smyth's unruly hair had already begun 
to whiten ; he had good health, was interested in every- 
thing that concerned the college or the welfare of the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

village. He was rather above the medium height, had 
a fine head and face, models for an artist. His large 
gray eyes when not abstracted beamed with kindness ; 
yet the students who disliked mathematics called him 
" Ferox," more from his earnest pursuit of a matter in 
hand, regardless of chalk and dust, than from any 
severity of look or act. 

Prof. Parker Cleveland was the oldest teacher 
when I came. He had been for over forty years con- 
nected with Bowdoin. His forte was chemistry. His 
lectures to students, including the medical classes, 
were plain, clear, and beautiful, not at all behind the 
times. Chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and astron- 
omy could not be pursued as now with the new splen- 
did opportunities for individual experiments, but in 
these subjects the venerable professor made ours the 
equal of any existing college. The man himself was 
grand. His face was strong, like that of Bismarck. No 
student would willingly receive a reprimand from him. 
His looks with a few words were enough for a delin- 
quent lad. Though he was a great scholar and indeed 
a manly man, yet he had, it was said, a peculiar weak- 
ness. He was nearly i3aralyzed with fear in a thunder 
storm and resorted to an insulated stool for safety ; he 
would never step into a railway coach, but rode in his 
own chaise from Brunswick to Boston when duty 
called him to Massachusetts. In spite of his rough ex- 
terior he had a tender heart for young men and we all 
loved him. 

During the freshman year a young man had all the 
old trials in the way of hazing; holdings-in at the 
chapel; football miscarriages; smokings-out ; baths at 
the pump; casting the remains of nightly feasts into 
his room and such like performances, that some sopho- 


College Days at Bowdoin 

mores, aided by other fun-loving boys from the higher 
classes, could give him. When my roommate and I 
came to the sophomore year we determined to abstain 
from such practices. In fact, as he had belonged to the 
previous class he proved to be quite a mascot of pre- 
vention to his roommate during the first and second 

As I think of my college course, and in fact of all my 
school life, I see that I had in mind very clearly defined 
one purpose, and that was to accomplish what I under- 
took in spite of the obstacles thrown in my way. The 
means of my family, so far as I was concerned, were 
very limited, and I desired greatly to teach a district 
school the first winter, but in spite of every effort 
which I made I could not at sixteen convince the school 
committees that I was old enough to undertake the 
teaching and government of forty or fifty scholars. 
Though fully grown, I had no beard, and my face was 
yet that of a youth emerging into manhood. " Otis, 
you are too young altogether ! " the Chairman of the 
Leeds Committee declared. 

That winter vacation, however, was a very impor- 
tant one to me. It was a complete rest from study and 
very much enlivened by social intercourse with young 
people in Leeds and the neighboring towns. My room- 
mate, Perley, lived with his parents, brothers, and sis- 
ters in Livermore, which was separated from Leeds by 
the Androscoggin River. He invited me to visit him. 
I did so for a few days. His mother gave him and me 
a pleasant evening party of young people from the 
neighborhood. Among the girls there came to the 
party a young lady visiting her relatives in the vicin- 
ity, who was a cousin of Perley. During the even- 
ing I made her acquaintance. She was about two 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

years younger than I, but very mature for her age. As 
two or three of us were chatting together that evening, 
I related some of my mischievous performances, prob- 
ably exaggerating them, when with her large, dark 
eyes she looked into mine and said, " Mr. Howard, do 
you think that was right? " 

I may here say that this little contretemps even- 
tuated in a lifelong relationship. The acquaintance 
ripened into a correspondence which absorbed my 
heart and much of my leisure during the college 
course. After this my purpose to do well, to accom- 
plish what I undertook, and to make a success of life 
never faltered. 

The next winter I was able to get a school in the 
district where I was born. Here I began to teach for 
$14 a month. The following winter I had a large dis- 
trict school in East Livermore and received for my 
hard work $18 per month, and part of the time I had 
the very pleasant experience of " boarding round." Of 
course, the master, during his week with a family, al- 
ways had the very best. After a month, however, I 
was relieved from the wear and tear of it by an aged 
widow who found me so useful and companionable that 
she requested the privilege of boarding the master at 
her house. 

In the fall of 1849 I stayed out of college and con- 
ducted a high school at "Wayne Village ; and the follow- 
ing winter was employed in our home district and en- 
abled to board at home under my mother's care. This 
was the most difficult and trying of all my experiences 
in school-teaching, owing to the school being composed 
of boys and girls of all ages from five years to twenty- 
one and without any proper classification, and fur- 
ther, owing to the fact that I had previously been a 


College Days at Bowdoin 

scholar in the same school. I managed, however, to 
get through the winter without any serious difficulty. 
There were threatenings from some of the young men 
who felt sure that they could " put the master out " in 
a contest of strength, and there was at times a trouble- 
some independence on the part of some of the larger 
girls who had known me as their companion in social 
life. To them I was hardly " master," but simply Otis 

The help that came from my school wages and from 
my mother's economy and self-denial paid all the ex- 
penses at Bowdoin which, including my preparatory 
course, cost a sum in the neighborhood of $1,100. So 
small an expense seems to-day hardly possible, but at 
Brunswick I joined what was called a club where the 
students themselves, twelve or less, organized and 
chose a good purveyor from their own number to serve 
without pay. He employed a family which did the 
cooking and served the table. The table furniture de- 
scended from generation to generation, being added to, 
now and then, when there was a deficiency or a break- 
age. During my course I belonged to four different 
establishments of this kind. Habitually the cost to 
each of us in the club was $1 per week. Sometimes it 
slightly exceeded this amount. The highest that was 
paid at any club was $1.75 per week. 

During my last year, with several classmates of 
special selection, I boarded at Mrs. Hall's, not far from 
the Tontine Hotel, for $1.50 per week. 

This board did not include what was called the term 
bill, which, for room rent, tuition, and incidentals, was 
paid to the treasurer of the college. 

In my class were thirty-six students. One only, Dr. 
Holmes, a surgeon in the army, died during the Civil 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

War. Another, WilHam P. Frye, of just my age, truly 
a most distinguished citizen, is now a United States 
Senator and President pro tern, of the United States 
Senate. John S. Sewall, D.D., for a time in the United 
States Navy, has just retired with accumulated honor 
from the Presidency of the Bangor Theological Semi- 
nary. Charles Carroll Everett was, long before his 
death, a professor in Harvard College and at the head 
of the Divinity School of that institution. 

My classmates were scattered hither and thither 
over the country. Some were lawyers, some were phy- 
sicians, and several were clergymen of different de- 
nominations. With scarcely an exception the record 
of each has been most worthy, and I am proud to-day 
of those living ; they are still doing important work in 
the world. 

The oldest, most dignified, and perhaps the hardest 
worker when in college was John N. Jewett. His 
parents had moved from Maine to Wisconsin and he 
came back from Madison to take the Bowdoin course. 
He was really, while a student, the head of the class. I 
remember to have tried my hand with him in mathe- 
matics, which study we completed at the end of the 
junior year. The test problem was to be solved by 
using the calculus. This was the problem as I re- 
member it : 

" Find the volume generated by revolving a circle 
about an axis exterior to it ; given the radius of the cir- 
cle and the distance of the axis from the center of the 

We both worked at it for some time. One morning 
I wakened quite early and went to my small black- 
board and wrote out its solution. It seemed to have 
come to me in the night. I ran to Jewett's room. Hq 


College Days at Bowdoin 

had not yet obtained the answer; so that my class- 
mates gave me the credit of being the mathematician 
of the class, though Professor Smyth, with better dis- 
crimination, taking in the entire course, gave the palm 
to my friend Jewett. Jewett and Fuller were for years 
legal associates in Chicago. " Mell Fuller," as we 
called him, was a college friend, though not a class- 
mate, of mine. He is now the Chief Justice of the 
United States. 

As I have said, in the winter vacation of 1846 I met 
at her cousin's house one who was but a girl just bud- 
ding into womanhood. She arrested my attention and 
impressed me more deeply than I then thought. Our 
acquaintance very soon after that winter ripened into 
something more than an ordinary friendship. I met 
her during her visits to Livermore in vacations and I 
had several times visited her father's house in Port- 
land. I may say that with the approval of our parents 
we had come, before my graduation, to have a constant 
and intimate correspondence. 

In the fall, while I was conducting a high school at 
Wayne Village, something happened that threw a 
heavy cloud of sorrow upon the household to which she 
belonged. Her father, Alexander Black Waite, super- 
intending a number of workmen engaged in calking 
one of his vessels, accidently fell through the hatchway 
to the deck below. This fall gave him such a terrific 
blow on the head that he never spoke again. He was 
carried unconscious to his house, where every remedy 
was applied, but to no purpose, and he very soon 
breathed his last. 

His remains, accompanied by his wife and daugh- 
ter, were brought to his father's house in Livermore 
and he was buried with proper ceremony in the ceme- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

tery in that vicinity. The news of this fearful calam- 
ity came to me with the suddenness of lightning from a 
clear sky. I went over and was present during those 
saddest of days. 

Alexander B. Waite was still a young man when 
thus so tragically arrested in the midst of a most 
promising career. His wife was never quite herself 
again. The only child, Elizabeth, seemed at first com- 
pletely overcome. She gave evidence of intensity of 
affection for her father and could not repress her 
grief. From that time it was understood by everybody 
connected with our two families that we young people 
were betrothed. 

I left the stricken ones to return to my school and 
as soon as the term was completed went back to Bow- 
doin for a short time. Then, hard pressed as I was for 
means, I took my school in the winter. 

During the hardest part of that winter, when the 
snow was deep and a storm raging, my mother on one 
occasion worked her way on foot from our home to the 
schoolhouse to bring me an important message. That 
trip of my good mother, so full of exposure and dan- 
ger to herself, gave me the strongest impression that 
I ever had had of my mother's love. 

During that year, while I was hard at work in the 
summer term, preparing for graduation, and while 
even to my sanguine mind the future was dark enough, 
I received a letter from my uncle, the Hon. John Otis, 
then at Washington : 

Washington, June 20, 1850. 
My Dear Nephew: From what William (William Otis, his 
son) writes me to-day, I am of opinion that he will not be 
accepted at West Point on account of the narrowness of his 


College Days at Bowdoin 

chest, and want of general physical strength. . . . What I wish 
to know is whether, in case he is not accepted, you would like to 
have me recommend you or Rowland Bailey (my brother). The 
advantages you would have are a good constitution and strength 
for endurance, and you have a good acquaintance with the lan- 
guages and are fond of mathematics. . . . The applicant must 
be full sixteen years of age. Is that Rowland's age? He must 
not be over twenty-one. Please write me your own thoughts 
before you apply at home. 

Yours sincerely, 
[Signed] John Otis. 

Oliver Otis Howard. 

This was a turning point in my career. What my 
micle anticipated with reference to his son took place. 
He was rejected upon the physical examination. I did 
not accept the offer at once. It occasioned too radical 
a change in all my thoughts and plans. I had desired 
to do something to enable me to lay by money enough 
to commence and go through a professional course 
without interruption, and I wanted to be, like my uncle, 
a lawyer. It had never entered my mind before to be 
a soldier, and I knew scarcely anything with regard to 
the Military Academy; but the prospect of bettering 
my education and having a support while I did so and, 
if I graduated successfully, a career open which would 
relieve me from the anxiety of toiling too much for a 
support, soon determined the case in favor of accept- 
ance. As we were so young. Miss Waite and her 
friends made no serious objection. 

I went home to my mother and laid the whole case 
before her and think I should have been governed by 
her wisdom had she decided that I ought not to go into 
the army, but she looked into my face and said, " My 
son, you have already made up your mind." It was the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

nearest to an objection that she ever made. Her chief 
thought, often expressed, was that I must be upright 
in all my intercourse at the Military Academy and take 
a high stand. 

By diligent study I was able to pass all my exam- 
inations at Bowdoin and secure my proper degree at 
graduation, though it was impossible for me to remain 
with my classmates for the final " commencement." 

It has been my privilege to attend ceremonials at 
home and abroad of every description and to take in as 
well as I could notions of precedence, arrangement, 
and dignity, but I have never been so much impressed 
as I was with the seniors of Bowdoin College during 
the last term of our class. Their display at chapel ex- 
ercises was particularly noticeable, especially at the 
time of evening prayers. As a rule they wore tall silk 
hats and a majority of them carried canes. They at- 
tached considerable importance to their long coats, 
their well-selected cravats and standing collars. They 
usually came with a quick step, to be observed by the 
other classes, the professors and President Woods, 
who, through his large spectacles, never let anything 
escape his attention. As soon as the seniors were 
seated President Woods arose and gave out a hymn, 
which was well sung by a choir of selected voices. 
Then he read a portion of Scripture. Always reverent 
and yet always cheerful, he offered a prayer, simple 
and direct, as a prayer should be. It covered the usual 
ground of confession and entreaty, but always wound 
up with asking a blessing upon the college, upon our 
rulers, State and national, and upon " all our fellow 
men, for the sake and in the name of our Blessed 
Lord." The seniors never waited for the last benedic- 
tion, but as soon as they heard the words " all our fel- 


College Days at Bowdoin 

low men " they rose en masse and marched out with 
their dignified tread and deportment, much impress- 
ing, as it should, the under classmen who were to fol- 
low them. The hats were resumed, and the canes, car- 
ried under the arm, were taken in hand at the door. 

The present beautiful chapel is not the one I found 
at Bowdoin in 1846, but is a new one, handsomely con- 
structed, which, for a time, answered the purpose of 
a chapel and a library. After half a century the 
library, having become altogether too small, has been, 
through the generosity of an alumnus. General Thomas 
H. Hubbard, of New York, replaced by a new structure 
four times as large and in every way conformable to 
the wonderful growth of the college itself. 

Perhaps at no time in my life did I feel so much 
that I had attained substantial greatness as when, 
among the seniors with their hats and canes, I passed 
in and out of the college chapel for the last time. 




T T was after the middle of August, 1850, when I left 
-'■ my home for West Point. I had my trunk packed 
with those things that were required in the way of un- 
derclothing, but as the uniform, whatever that might 
mean, and everything pertaining to the furnishing of 
a cadet's room were to be had from the public store 
after my arrival, I did not overburden myself with ar- 
ticles which would be of no use to me if I succeeded in 
passing the entrance examinations. On the way from 
Boston to New York I was fortunate enough to meet on 
the train Lieutenant Alley, who had been my prede- 
cessor. A predecessor is the cadet from my same dis- 
trict whose graduation caused the vacancy which I 
filled. He gave me some very wholesome suggestions 
and I saw at once that it would not do to appear there 
with a silk hat or a cane. I found that they called 
a freshman a " plebe " and that I should not escape the 
hazing process whatever might be my character, my 
age, or previous experience. 

New York City, now visited for the first time, was 
much enjoyed. I had relatives in Brooklyn and re- 
mained a few days with them. The old omnibuses 
were running on Broadway, and at times every day 
the street was blocked with them, so that nothing could 
pass one way or the other till a gradual clearing was 


Cadet at the United States Military Academy 

had under the direction of the police. The St. Nicholas 
Hotel, said to be much needed, was just open for 
guests. The Hudson Eiver Railroad had its depot in 
Chambers Street and the cars were taken in and out 
of the city from that point by horses. There was sub- 
stantially no city above Forty-second Street. 

The first time I stayed overnight in New York 
proper, I had a room in the old Washington Hotel near 
Bowling Green. The Astor House was at that time in 
best repute as a family hotel. 

On August 26th I took the Hudson Eiver Railway 
and after a two hours' run was left at Cold Spring, 
a small New York village just above West Point. 
Here again I counted myself very fortunate in meet- 
ing an officer of the army, Captain E. Kirby Smith. 
He was dressed in citizen's clothes and was on his 
way to the Military Academy. Two flat-bottomed row- 
boats were found at the wharf just at the foot of the 
main street. Captain Smith being my guide, I got my 
trunk on board one of them. He and I seated our- 
selves in the stern and a single oarsman began to row 
us, a distance of a mile and a half, to the West Point 

The captain explained to me very kindly what I 
must do, and some things that I must not do, when I 
reached the post — the whole military station was 
called a post. He advised me not to report at once to 
the superintendent, but to go to Roe's Hotel and stay 
at least one night, visit the cadet encampment close by 
and take observations. The orders which I had in my 
pocket were for me to report to the adjutant of the 
academy on or before September 1, 1850. 

Indeed, I think that Captain Smith's kind warnings 
saved me from a good deal of annoyance and from 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

some laughable mistakes that a candidate is almost 
sure to make unless he is thus befriended. 

It was not long before I reported to Captain Seth 
Williams, then adjutant of the Military Academy. 
He, too, was very pleasant and thoughtful for me. He 
was always a genial gentleman and took pleasure in 
doing something for the comfort of anybody who came 
in contact with him. 

The superintendent. Captain Brewerton, was a tall 
military man dressed in the uniform of the corps of 
engineers. Every officer at West Point was in uni- 
form, and every cadet also. The cadet's dress con- 
sisted of the well-known gray coat, with the tail so 
short you might call it a coatee. It was double- 
breasted, with three rows of bell buttons and a stiff 
collar. During the encampment, and for some time 
after, the trousers were of white duck. When off duty 
the cadet, outside of his quarters, wore a small cap of 
blue cloth, diminishing toward the top, which was flat 
and round, and having a chin strap with a brass button 
at each extremity. The cap was essentially like the 
ordinary undress cap of officers. When on duty, at 
that time, the cadet wore a singular stiff felt hat 
shaped like a section of stovepipe with a leather band 
around it at the bottom, and a band at the top. It was 
finished with a stiff visor, and pompon at the crest. 
Each hat was ornamented in front with a handsome 
bronze castle. The cadet officers, instead of a pompon, 
wore a plume of dark feathers which floated in the 
breeze and covered the top of the hat. The waist belt 
was of white canvas with a brass breastplate, and the 
shoulder belt, which sustained the cartridge box, was 
also of the same material. 

As I looked upon the battalion for the first time 


Cadet at the United States Military Academy 

when in line of battle in two ranks, I thought I had 
never seen anything handsomer. There did not appear 
to be a motion throughout the line, and later, the move- 
ment in column presented an appearance even more 
beautiful. Every cadet held his musket in his left 
hand, and the drill in the manual of arms was nearly 
perfect. Though the motions were angular and stiff 
enough, the effect upon the beholder was that of a com- 
plete machine which could make no failure as long as 
it was in order. 

When the cadets were at drill or on parade there 
was, not far off, a squad of young men dressed in old 
clothes of different descriptions. They all had caps, 
but caps differing from each other. This squad af- 
forded interest and amusement to a number of visitors 
who clustered about the encampment to observe the 
drills and parades. I was very soon attached to that 
squad. At drill we were divided into two such squads 
and each was under the command of a cadet corporal 
of the class above us. 

They called us " Septs " because we came in Sep- 
tember. The officers said we were September cadets. 
The main portion of my class, 102 in number, had re- 
ported for duty before June 1st, and so had had the 
benefit of the summer encampment. It really meant a 
constant drill and discipline, covering the whole new 
life of a young man, every day and every hour, from 
which he was never for a moment relieved, even at 
night ; because with only blankets and a single pillow 
he was obliged to lie upon the hard floor of his tent 
and be subject to annoyance, he knew not when — to be 
plagued by the other cadets — some of whom would pull 
him out of his bed or otherwise attempt to haze him. 
I escaped this severe trial because I slept in the en- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

campment only four nights ; then the battalion was sent 
to the barracks. Still our squad drill continued once 
a day while the uniforms of the September cadets were 
in making. The corporal of one of our squads was 
Cadet Boggs, of Georgia. He was a capital drill mas- 
ter, severe enough, but always dignified and respect- 
ful to the boys under his charge; but the other cor- 
poral, Cadet Walker, never let an opportunity slip for 
an irritating speech to the squad and to individuals 
in it. 

It was hard enough for a young man to put himself 
into what was called the military attitude, the little 
fingers on the seams of the trousers, palms to the front, 
head drawn back, and shoulders squared. I held my- 
self in this position of apparent awkwardness till it 
became natural to be thus set up. I think the most dif- 
ficult thing for each of us was to so walk as to strike 
the ball of the foot first. To point the toe and do this 
were required, and it gave a cadet a peculiar gait. 

As soon as I received my uniform, my coat neatly 
fitting and keeping me in shape, with a clean white 
linen collar turned over the stiff binding, and trousers 
like my comrades, it was easier than before to escape 
expressions of amusement, and when we were divided 
into sections and sent to the class rooms I became daily 
more and more reconciled to the new life. In the reci- 
tation room I was more ready to compete with my com- 

At first the young men of my class when getting ac- 
quainted with each other were reasonably harmonious 
in their social life, but I very soon found that unpleas- 
ant feuds existed in the corps of cadets, and, as a rule, 
the subject of slavery was at the bottom of the contro- 
versy. I would not have owned at that time that I 


Cadet at the United States Military Academy 

was an abolitionist, but in sentiment I indorsed the 
speeches of William H. Seward, which were against 
slavery and demonstrated the desirability of its non- 
extension. However, I said but little about politics, 
yet once in a while in conversation with a companion 
I did let my sentiments be known. 

When we first went into quarters the room to which 
I was assigned was in what was called the Old South 
Barracks, a very large room without alcoves. There 
were four separate iron bedsteads and four iron tables, 
with other meager furniture for four cadets. My 
mates were Thomas J. Treadwell, from New Hamp- 
shire, a student of Dartmouth; Levi R. Brown, from 
Maine, my own State ; and Henry M. Lazell, of Massa- 
chusetts. No young men were ever more studious or 
more desirous to get a fair standing in the institution 
than we. 

The only single room on the same floor had been at 
one time used as a " light prison," and this room was 
occupied by a cadet of the third class by the name of 
Elmer S. Otis. He had done some foolish thing while 
in the camp which the majority of his class condemned. 
There was no criminality in it, but his comrades de- 
clared that no gentleman would do such a thing. A 
few of them started the cry to ostracize him, or, as the 
cadets say, " cut him." The idea went from man to 
man till there was scarcely a cadet who would speak to 
him. I remember two of his classmates who were ex- 
ceptions. One was McPherson, who was a man of in- 
dependence and noble instincts, and another was Will- 
iam Sooy Smith, who was a professing Christian. 
They occasionally visited him. As he had my mother's 
maiden name, my attention was early called to him and 
his situation. Frequently I stepped in to see him, and 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

sometimes during leisure hours played checkers with 
him to relieve his loneliness. 

The next day after my arrival at the post I went 
to the engineer's barracks situated near the northwest 
comer of the reservation to look up Warren Lothrop 
from my home town. He was the first sergeant of the 
Engineer Company then called the " Sappers and Min- 
ers." This company had achieved success in the Mexi- 
can War and was considered the first of all the com- 
panies of enlisted men in the service. Warren himself 
had gained quite a distinction for his bravery and 
work during the campaign. He was now a magnificent- 
looking man, straight, tall, and of fine figure, and his 
officers were proud of him and trusted him fully in the 
management of the company. He was earnestly seek- 
ing a commission, and his friends thought he had a 
good prospect of receiving one. As he was a worthy 
man and the son of my guardian, and as our families 
at home were intimate, I felt it a duty and a privilege 
to visit him. For a time he came to see me during re- 
lease from quarters, always making short calls. One 
Saturday afternoon, when the limits of cadets were ex- 
tended to embrace the public lands generally, I went 
to the engineer barracks to make a call. Two army 
officers saw me and the next night my name was pub- 
lished before the battalion, " Cadet Howard oif limits 
Saturday afternoon." The next Saturday I took to 
the acting commandant, Lieutenant John M. Jones, 
of Virginia, a written request to go and see that friend. 
In my presence, with a show of anger, Mr. Jones tore 
up my request and threw the fragments on the floor. 
Feeling outraged I wrote another and carried it to the 
superintendent. Captain Brewerton. This request 
was disapproved and I was reported for forwarding a 


Cadet at the United States Military Academy 

permit to the superintendent over the head of the com- 
mandant. A day or two afterwards Captain B. E. 
Alden, the commandant, sent for me and gave me a 
lecture, a very kind and fatherly one, for which I was 
grateful. He had been temporarily absent. The pur- 
port of what he said was, " There has been nothing 
wrong in your conduct ; on the contrary, it is to your 
credit to recognize your friend as you have done, but 
it is contrary to the regulations and spirit of this in- 
stitution. The sergeant is an enlisted man and it will 
not do for you to recognize him in any social way." 

Captain Seth Williams, the adjutant, also sent for 
me and advised me kindly in the matter : " You must 
remember that it will be for your own advantage to 
separate yourself from your friend while he is in the 
unfortunate position of an enlisted man." I wasn't yet 
wise enough to be silent on the subject of what I re- 
garded as wrong. 

About the year 1854 Lothrop became a second lieu- 
tenant and was assigned to the Fourth Artillery. He 
was promoted, step by step, till he became, during the 
Civil War, the colonel of a regiment, and he would 
probably have had higher promotion still had not ty- 
phoid fever seized him in camp and terminated his life. 
I have never regretted my show of friendship to him 
in our younger days and the incident always affected 
me, when considering the subject of discipline in the 
army, inclining me strongly against martinetism in 
whatever form it presented itself. 

For a time I was very intimate with one of my 
classmates from the East, and finding him a man of 
high culture, I constantly sought his companionship, as 
he did mine. A few months had passed when I began 
to feel that there was something in the social atmos- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

phere of my class unfavorable to me. I need not go 
into details, but simply state that a few individuals 
with a view to promoting the interest of a rival in aca- 
demic standing, formed a cabal. They were all of them 
Southern men. It was the beginning of a feud such 
as I had observed in other classes. Against me certain 
things were alleged : First, that I was an abolitionist ; 
second, that I associated with " cut men " ; third, that 
I visited and made companions of enlisted men; and 
fourth, that I had joined the Bible class and curried 
favor with the professor of ethics. We were accus- 
tomed to salute each other as we passed, or give some 
sign of pleasant recognition. I now saw that individ- 
uals who belonged to the small conspiracy passed me 
without recognition or took some other method of 
showing that my society was not desirable. I became 
suspicious and turned a cold shoulder upon any class- 
mate who might pass me by without notice, even when 
done by accident. My friend and associate, of whom 
I have spoken, changed his place in ranks to remove 
from me, and completely withdrew his fellowship. 
For this I called him to account with indignation. On 
the Sabbath the professor of ethics, who was also the 
chaplain, preached a sermon against slander and os- 
tracism. The case fitted so well that my late friend 
asked of me an interview. We had a walk and talked 
over the whole matter, when he told me frankly that he 
wanted to stand high in the academy, not only in his 
studies but socially, and as he saw that I was becoming 
unpopular for the reasons I have alleged, he thought 
it would be better for him completely to forego my com- 
panionship. In a proud spirit I agreed to this. He 
said, however, something that comforted me a little, 
that he believed there was nothing against me as a gen- 


Cadet at the United States Military Academy 

tleman. He and I from that time did not speak to each 
other for over three years. 

This feud, for it became one, entered into the fol- 
lowing summer encampment and for a time I confess 
that my life at West Point was wretched. Several of 
those who were opposed to me became cadet officers 
and they gave me reports with demerit on every pos- 
sible occasion. Seeing how matters went, Captain 
Alden at last sent for me and said that he had noticed 
how I was being treated and how unjustly demerit was 
being given me and he said, " Now, Mr. Howard, I 
want to give you some advice. Mind you, I do not give 
you this advice as Commandant of Cadets, for I shall 
punish you for any infraction of regulations. Yes, sir, 
I shall punish you severely, but I give it to you as a 
father to his son. If I were in your place I would 
knock some man down." 

I understood Captain Alden thoroughly, and from 
that time on my friends had nothing to complain of 
from my want of spirit. I had some conflicts, some 
wounds, and was reasonably punished for breaking the 
regulations, and my demerits increased. 

My friends might be curious to know if I had any 
following in my own class. Indeed I did, and it wasn't 
long before I had nine-tenths of the class in sympathy 
with me and my defenders. I never can forget the 
manliness of J. E. B. Stuart, of Virginia, who became, 
in the Civil War, the leader of the Southern cavalry. 
He spoke to me, he visited me, and we became warm 
friends, often, on Saturday afternoons, visiting the 
young ladies of the post together. While I was made 
to feel keenly the hatred which accompanies ostracism, 
yet by a straightforward course I first robbed it of its 
sting; and finally the majority of those who opposed 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

me were ashamed of the course they had pursued and 
before graduation there were few indeed with whom I 
was not on good terms. I did not go to the offenders 
and ask any favors, but one by one they came to me. 

At one time during my first winter the horizontal 
bar turned with me and I fell in the gymnasium. The 
injury to my head was very severe and ended in a 
serious attack of erysipelas and for a time my life was 
despaired of. The gentle care and nursing of Dr. Cuy- 
ler, the surgeon, saved my life. 

While I was in the hospital the superintendent, 
then Colonel Eobert E. Lee, paid me a visit, sat down 
by my bedside and spoke to me very kindly. After I 
was restored to health, with Cadet Stuart I visited 
Colonel Lee's family and was well received by every 
member of it. 

Notwithstanding this accident and my detention 
for some weeks from the recitation rooms, I kept up 
my studies and did not lose my standing. At the end 
of the first year I was at the head of my class, already 
reduced in numbers from resignations to sixty-three, 
and I had the privilege and honor of marching the class 
whenever it went en masse to any exercise. 

The difficulties which had assailed me prevented me 
for a year from receiving military advancement, and 
in fact I entered my second class year without promo- 
tion. One day our new commandant. Captain Robert 
S. Garnet, who relieved Captain Alden, came into our 
recitation room and heard several cadets recite, my- 
self among the number. He was a Southern man and 
a just and impartial commandant. He inquired why 
Cadet Howard was without chevrons. A few days 
after this inquiry I had the pleasure of hearing my 
name published as promoted to a sergeancy, and a lit- 


Cadet at the United States Military Academy 

tie later, after some cadet officer was reduced for a 
military offense, I was made quartermaster sergeant 
of the cadet corps and held that office till the end of 
the year. 

The last year at the Military Academy I was pro- 
moted to a cadet lieutenancy and a little later was 
made cadet quartermaster of the corps. In this I fol- 
lowed in the footsteps of Cadet J. B. McPherson, who 
had had the same office during his second and his first 
class years. 

My unpopularity had, at the beginning of my last 
year, so far passed away that I was elected to the 
presidency of our only literary association, the Dialec- 
tic Society. In this also I followed McPherson. 

It has often been said to me, " You had the advan- 
tage over your companions in a college training, did 
you not ? " I did have the advantage of some of them, 
but it should be remembered that we had in our class 
fifteen young men who also had had a college educa- 
tion, and as many as twenty more who had received 
an equivalent training, many of them in those studies 
that had special reference to the West Point course. 
We were all on a par in tactical exercises, both in the 
theoretical and the practical. Much time was then 
given to right line and topographical drawings, and as 
much more to sketching and painting. In this branch 
I was without any experience whatever. At the end 
of the first year of drawing I was ranked thirty-seven, 
but by perseverance and great care I kept rising till I 
graduated ninth in that division of work. 

The most difficult of our course was the second 
class year, and the most trying study of that year was 
Bartlett's " Mechanics," usually denominated " The 
application of Algebra to Geometry." Professor Bart- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

lett was a man of great research and very able in the 
preparation of text-books, but he was of a nervous 
temperament and not a very successful instructor on 
that account. His digestion was so bad at one time 
that he ate scarcely any meat. It was said that they 
selected for him the tenderest birds in order to tempt 
his appetite and keep up his strength. 

One day I remember that he had me at the black- 
board and was very impatient and indignant that I did 
not follow him as he made his lightning demonstration. 
I remained after the class had gone so as to have a talk 
with him, and I said to him : " Professor Bartlett, I 
have a good mathematical mind, but I move slowly 
through a demonstration. If you hurry me or discon- 
cert me I lose my chance. You are so familiar with 
this complicated work that it is very plain to your 
mind, but not to ours " (referring to myself and fellow 

Professor Bartlett instantly changed. He was 
kindness itself, and said that I was right and that he 
would try to remember what I said in the interest of 
the class. 

As a rule no professors conducted our recitations, 
l)ut had their several instructors, who were detailed 
from the army, do this work under their supervision. 
During the recitations the professors would go from 
one section to another, sometimes taking part in the 
recitation and sometimes simply looking on and listen- 
ing to the questions and answers. Professor Bartlett 
usually deviated from this custom. 

I did not succeed so well in " English studies," as 
they were called, such as Blair's " Rhetoric," logic, 
and international law. Some' of my mates would re- 
cite several pages word for word. How they could so 


Cadet at the United States Military Academy 

memorize in the limited time given to preparation for 
the next day's recitation was a mystery to me. How- 
ever, I could give the meaning in my own terms and 
obtained fairly good marks. I enjoyed the study of 
international law and never forgot the principles which 
were then learned. Even without books, when in the 
field, I could have decided most questions that arose 
involving our relations with other nations, as at At- 
lanta and Savannah ; but I do not think that any of us 
could have equaled Sherman in his thorough mastery 
of that study. He never forgot what he once learned. 

Those of our class who were able to systematize and 
seize upon the principles of any study were in the end 
able to retain the knowledge. The recitations at first 
of those who memorized were seemingly the best, but 
on the final examinations, after a month or more had 
elapsed, those who memorized were not so proficient. 
Many officers fail with large commands, and the reason 
is traceable to their encumbering their minds with the 

There were many things about my last year as a 
cadet which were very pleasant. Being the cadet quar- 
termaster I was relieved from the irksome part of mili- 
tary duty and had more time for study during " call 
to quarters," and was more at leisure to extend my 
acquaintanceship to the families of the garrison. I 
think now that I had become quite a favorite in the 
social circle made up of the professors' and officers' 

Henry W. Closson, a classmate from Vermont, who 
was retired as a colonel of artillery, became my favor- 
ite companion. He was a poet and very quick-witted. 
He and I exchanged confidences, read books together, 
and made visits in each other's company. Closson was 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

small of stature, with light hair, of pale complexion, 
and had as finely formed a head as if it had been chis- 
eled from marble by the best of sculptors. One lady 
with her two little children always took my friend's 
attention. She was beautiful and especially so in her 
little family, so that no visits were pleasanter than 
those that he and I made at her house. These and 
other visits gave us glimpses of home life that we very 
much needed while cadets. 

I also became quite intimate with two of my class- 
mates. One was Cadet Charles G. Sawtelle, the other 
his roommate, John T. Greble. Sawtelle was from 
Maine, and we were naturally thrown together, and 
through him I became associated with Greble. The 
latter belonged to a large Philadelphia family. Father, 
mother, and sisters often paid him visits. They in- 
vited me to see them at the hotel whenever they came, 
and I was treated by them with much attention and re- 
ciprocated the kindness as well as I could by attending 
them in their walks about the post and to the parades. 

After graduation Mr. Edwin Greble always in- 
sisted that I make his house in Philadelphia my home 
whenever I came to that city. 



DEPARTMENT, 1855-56 

AFTER a term of hard study away from home there 
is probably no more real enjoyment for a stu- 
dent than the vacation. Each vacation has its spe- 
cialty. There are relaxations and rests which in them- 
selves are refreshing. The constant call to duty, the 
constant pressure of mental work, and the exactions of 
instructors are by no means without their rewards, but 
such things always need the relief of a vacation. Then 
there is the comfort of meeting old friends ; the bright 
welcome in the homes of old neighbors; the parties 
gotten up especially for you ; and the increasing charm 
of the old homestead where are the father, the mother, 
the brothers, and the visiting friends, young men and 
young women. All these things had been mine and 
were delightfully reminiscent. What was called my 
cadet furlough at the close of the first two years of 
West Point life had been indeed the richest of all my 
vacations, so that when I returned to the severe disci- 
pline and confinement of the Military Academy I was 
for some time discontented and inclined to tender my 
resignation and return to my people, but no vacation 
was equal to that which came at the close of the West 
Point course. 

The continued hardship of unremitting study; the 
freedom of action fettered; the orders and require- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ments which could never be evaded were now over for- 
ever. With the graduation a commission had followed 
the diploma, not a high one, but that of a brevet sec- 
ond lieutenant in the Army of the United States. It 
was something gained, something that looked larger to 
me then than any of the subsequent commissions which 
I received. On graduation in June, 1854, our class 
numbered forty-six members. As I graduated fourth 
in the class I had the right to choose any arm of the 
service from that of topographical engineer to the in- 
fantry arm inclusive. For several reasons I signified 
my choice to be that of the Ordnance Department. 

Thus I went forth well equipped for enjoyment. 
The Ordnance Department had in charge all the 
United States arsenals and armories of the country 
with a few powder stations, and at every one of these 
there was a house ready for a married officer, so that 
as soon as I could get the assent of my fiancee, we could 
be married and have immediate provision for a home. 
The Ordnance Department had many other advantages 
over the line of the army, but this one of a house, 
which in the army we called quarters, was just then to 
me of special interest. 

On the way to New York on board the old Thomas 
Powell, I met General Winfield Scott, accompanied by 
several of his staff and some young officers whom I 
knew. I had met him before and been presented, but 
this time his attention was called to me and he said 
some pleasant things welcoming me to the army. But 
when one of my classmates indicated that Howard 
would soon be married, the general shook his head and 
said, " No, no, don't do that ; a lieutenant must never 
get married." I was glad enough to have the conversa- 
tion turned to some other topic. I had no intention of 



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,n,',u, \^u 

dlu'iio eutf.. 

'///// /^/ 1 

• .4. 


Brevet Second Lieutenant Howard's Commission from President Pierce, 
AND Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War. 

Graduation from United States Military Academy 

heeding Scott's advice on the subject of marriage, be- 
cause I knew well enough the limitations of his author- 
ity, and the inalienable rights of even a brevet second 

New York had never been so delightful, but there 
were stars in the East which drew me away from even 
the social life of New York. In Boston and Cambridge 
and Arlington welcome was extended to the young 
lieutenant with enough of cheer to turn his head, but 
the brighter visions were still farther on. 

Portland, Me., was at that time the most beautiful 
of cities, and it had the center of all the attractions of 
that vacation. It will be impossible, of course, to in- 
terest others very much in the two succeeding months 
after my arrival in Maine ; but as I look back and think 
of the rides into the country, the visit to my home and 
to friends in the towns round about, I say to myself 
that those days in the retrospect are genial and 

My mother had followed me with devoted affection, 
all the way from the day I left home at eleven years 
of age to begin my preparation for college at Hallo- 
well, till then. No week had passed without a cheerful 
letter, and of course at no time did she ever go to rest 
without a prayer for her son; now imagine the wel- 
come home when the first round of the ladder of his 
achievements had been reached. I think she had never 
been so happy as when she had her children together 
again around her table. I often hear the expression 
" American " or " That is an expression of our Ameri- 
can life." It covers so much ; energy in preparation ; 
fearlessness in undertakings; bravery in action; en- 
durance under every hardship. It involves a healthful 
and well-developed body ; mental powers well in hand ; 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and an upright heart. Now who accomplishes this so 
much as an American mother, and who would deprive 
her of the joy of the home welcome which she gives 
to her sons as they come from or go to their world's 

The vacation ended, I reported for duty to Major 
John Symington, commanding Watervliet Arsenal at 
West Troy, N. Y., in September, 1854. 

Major Symington was a typical officer of the old 
school, already not far from the age of retirement. He 
was from Maryland and had married a sister of Gen- 
eral Joseph E. Johnston. He was a tall man, very mod- 
est and retiring, but one who always stood up to his 
convictions of duty. After talking with me a few min- 
utes in a kind and manly way he said that if I wished to 
go beyond the arsenal grounds all I would have to do 
was to put my name on a certain book, recording my 
departure and my return. Every day I was to have 
certain duties which would be easily performed, but 
twice a week I would be detailed as officer of the day. 
When officer of the day I would inspect the barracks, 
which then contained about forty enlisted men, and be 
responsible for the marching on of the guard and for 
the location of the sentinels, two being on duty at a 
time. I would further go through all the arsenal shops 
at least twice during my tour and note everything that 
.was taking place. 

So much freedom when on duty I had never had 
before since entering West Point, and never had after- 
wards till I came in command of a department. 

I have already spoken of my strong leaning toward 
a paternal government as against that of a martinet. 
Here with Major Symington I realized the full blessing 
of the paternal ; a man extraordinarily observant and 


Graduation from United States Military Academy 

conscientious, but always kind and considerate in his 

Mrs. Symington was a strong character. She was 
of large size and rather stout, a woman of unusual ac- 
complishments. The major's quarters were ample and 
commodious. He had a family consisting of his wife 
and five children, two daughters and three sons. The 
family was always hospitable. Nieces and nephews 
from Virginia and Maryland were generally part of 
the household. The large parlor gave a reception 
nearly every evening to the young officers, where there 
were music, innocent games, and delightful social con- 
verse. At that time there was but one other married 
officer, Major Laidley. He was a first lieutenant who 
had been in the Mexican War and was bre vetted major 
for gallantry in action. He and his wife and child oc- 
cupied a set of stone quarters. The other set under the 
same roof contained the unmarried officers' mess and 

Ellen McCarty, who could do everything in the line 
of housework, was a treasure to them. Her husband 
worked in the shops and her children aided her when 
she needed any assistance. I think Ellen became well 
known throughout the entire Ordnance Department. 
Our quarters were always as neat as they could be 
made from garret to cellar, and everything was done 
by her for us young men to make the entire house as 
homelike as possible. 

Lieutenant W. E. Boggs, of Georgia, who, it will be 
remembered, was at times my drill master when at 
West Point and who afterwards became a general in 
the Confederate service, was now my constant compan- 
ion. Lieutenant F. J. Shunk, of Pennsylvania, whom 
I had known as a cadet captain, was a choice comrade 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

to Boggs and myself. He was full of humor and oddi- 
ties and entertained us often by his violin and by the 
anecdotes that he picked up from his abundant read- 
ing and daily observations. We three seldom were at 
table without a guest from outside, and in those days 
young gentlemen from Troy were frequent visitors. 

One evening we were introduced at Mrs. Syming- 
ton's reception to Miss Jennie Pickett. She was sister 
to Captain George E. Pickett of the Ninth Infantry, 
who became celebrated at Gettysburg. She was a 
beautiful girl, a niece of Mrs. Symington's, and soon 
captured all our hearts, especially by her exquisite 
singing. I never had heard before, and only once or 
twice since, such a voice. Every time she sang she 
thrilled and delighted all present. 

Miss Carrie Symington, the major's niece from 
Baltimore, was with us in that garrison for at least 
two months. She was as remarkable for her personal 
beauty as Miss Jennie was for her music. Dignified in 
deportment, tall and commanding, she always had 
around her many admirers. 

One can imagine, then, som-ething of the manner in 
which we spent the fall and winter of 1854 at Water- 
vliet. The outer high wall inclosed an immense space 
which included not only the buildings which I have 
named and also the warehouses of great length that 
contained gun carriages and every sort of artillery 
equipment, but small groves of trees, gardens always 
well kept, and roads and paths which were a delight. 
Our outdoor parties in pleasant weather are kaleido- 
scopic in my recollection. 

The young officers did much reading at that time, 
each choosing books according to his taste. Major 
Symington, on one occasion, introduced to us a young 


Graduation from United States Military Academy 

Frenchman, Eugene de Courcillon, who had met with 
some singular misfortune and was seeking employ- 
ment. I was somewhat fascinated by him and hoped 
that my intercourse with him would improve my 
French, but he soon proposed to write a book revealing 
some of the customs of the part of France from which 
he came, interesting especially to Protestant minds. 
As he knew very little English I aided him in the trans- 
lation of his book. This took all my leisure time for 
months. The book was published in New York. I aided 
him in its publication and was to receive a return for 
my advances whenever he disposed of his manuscript. 
"Without my knowledge he managed to sell his work 
out and out and then disappeared without communi- 
cating with me, rewarding me only with this singular 
dedication : 

" To Lieutenant Oliver 0. Howard, my friend in 

My comrades laughed and wondered at the double 
meaning of the dedication, that is, as to which was 
really in adversity, de Courcillon or myself. 

In those days, in addition to the commissioned offi- 
cers, we had an official called the military storekeeper. 
Accounts of the material in this arsenal of construc- 
tion were carefully kept upon his books. He took care 
to receive everything coming in and to issue every- 
thing going out from the arsenal, making careful stor- 
age and record. An elderly man, Mr. Lansing, occu- 
pied that place. He and his wife, not much younger 
than himself, lived nearer to the arsenal entrance than 
any of us. For really charming hospitality Mr. and 
Mrs. Lansing excelled and very often entertained the 
young officers, among whom I was a welcome guest. 
Frequently Mr. Lansing, who was fond of fishing, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

would take me in his carriage and spend an entire day 
going to different fishing grounds. A favorite place 
was near Waterford in the upper waters of the Hud- 
son. "VVe caught there several varieties, but the favor- 
ite was the bass. Mr. Lansing declared that the bass 
was of better flesh and flavor than any other fish. 

While these days were passing I kept up a constant 
corresjDondence with my friends, and the time for the 
long-anticipated wedding was at last fixed for Feb- 
ruary 14, 1855. It was necessary for me to have a 
leave of absence, so I applied to the head of our Ord- 
nance Department at Washington, Colonel Craig, who 
very kindly gave me twenty days, and, of course, 
those twenty days embraced the principal event of 
that year. 

Mrs. A. B. Waite had a comfortable home on 
Chatham Street in Portland, Me., where she and her 
daughter, Elizabeth, were then living. Every neces- 
sary arrangement was made for a private wedding, but 
as the relatives on both sides were numerous and in- 
timate friends were not wanting, Mrs. Waite' s apart- 
ments were soon filled by a happy company. All agreed 
then and thereafter that no more charming bride and 
none more appropriately dressed ever went to the al- 
tar. The only criticism came from the bride's mother, 
and that was with reference to the bridegroom — 
dressed in full uniform with sash and belt. She said 
" it seemed too much like war." 

An event occurred the night of the wedding which, 
at least, was remarkable in the history and develop- 
ment of Portland. The lar^e theater took fire and 
burned to the ground. It was difficult to keep down the 
fire and preserve the houses in the neighborhood. In 
those days the young men worked at the brakes of the 


Graduation from United States Military Academy 

engine, among whom the bridegroom very properly 
performed his part. 

Before the expiration of the twenty days Lieuten- 
ant Howard and his bride appeared at Watervliet and 
began their social and domestic careers, which have 
now been continued beyond the golden wedding. 

I remember that Mr. Hillhouse, who had been a 
graduate of West Point and resigned, lived not far 
from Watervliet Arsenal ; he with his wife had been a 
constant visitor in the families of the officers. Hearing 
that I was to be married, Mrs. Hillhouse entreated me 
to give a description of the lady who was to be my 
wife. Out of mischief I gave her a description, naming 
every particular the exact opposite. For example, I 
said tall, with reddish hair, bright blue eyes, etc. Very 
soon after our arrival Mrs. Hillhouse came in her car- 
riage to pay her respects to Mrs. Howard. As soon as 
she saw her she cried out with amazement, " Oh, Mr. 
Howard, how could you have sold me that way? " I 
know that she and the many others who promptly paid 
us visits were better satisfied with the actuality than 
with the imaginary figure which I had painted. 

During the first few months after we had become 
settled in the north quarters we had a visit from Colo- 
nel Craig, the Chief of Ordnance, and I think we won 
his heart from the start. The result of it, however, 
seemed to be this: Captain Callender, in command of 
the Kennebec Arsenal at Augusta, Me., was to go to 
another post in the Far West, and there was no rank- 
ing ordnance officer available to fill his place ; so I was 
selected and sent to Augusta to relieve him. 

It was a favor for a second lieutenant to have an 
independent command, and it was indeed a promotion ; 
but after you have furnished your quarters, planted 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

your garden, provided yourself with a horse and 
buggy, and settled down to real life, it is not so easy to 
conform to a sudden change, and I would have been in- 
clined to have said, " Let me remain here with my com- 
forts for a while as a subordinate," but the army prin- 
ciple was : " Never decline promotion." 

The Kennebec Arsenal was beautiful; large 
grounds; fine quarters, both for officers and men; a 
garden five times as large as the one we left; perfect 
roads, well shaded, and fruit trees in abundance. Only 
five or sis enlisted men were allowed, but at the head 
of them was Sergeant McGregor, a Scotchman of great 
native talent, who not only knew how to put before you 
in perfect order all the papers that pertained to the 
commanding officer, the quartermaster, coromissary, 
and the surgeon, but could refresh you at any time 
with the most apt quotations from Burns. McGregor 
had but one drawback. It may be stated in this way : 
That he was fond of preparing fireworks to properly 
celebrate the Fourth of July, and it was exceedingly 
difficult for him to use the alcohol essential to that op- 
eration without some of it getting into his mouth. The 
wounds without cause that afterwards marked his face 
and the humility that came into his heart were conse- 
quent. When I forgave him out and out, only subject- 
ing him to a brief sermon, his gratitude reached the 
highest water mark. I did not stay at Augusta long 
enough for a second trial of Independence Day. 

It was while on duty at this arsenal that I became 
acquainted with James G. Blaine, then editor of the 
Kennebec Journal, sl Republican paper. The day I 
first saw him he had a controversy with the editor of 
the Argus of opposite politics. I had never before 
heard a man who had a better command of language 


Graduation from United States Military Academy 

than he ; but his rejoinders to the other editor, a yoimg 
man of about his age, were incisive and extremely 

Blaine soon after that became a member of the 
Maine Legislature and later the Speaker of the House. 
While doing his part in this capacity I went to him 
with an important request to the effect that the chil- 
dren within the arsenal grounds should have the privi- 
leges of the common schools. He saw to it at once, and 
the proper bill was drafted and went through both 
Houses without opposition. From that time on we be- 
came very warm personal friends and remained such 
all his life. 

On December 16, 1855, our first child was bom. We 
named him Guy. The incidents of his career will ap- 
pear here and there in connection with my own. His 
was an ideal life from his babyhood to his death in the 
service in the Philippines. 

One of the most intimate friends that I had had 
when preparing for college was Charles H. MuUiken, 
of Augusta. He was now married and had a small 
family. He and I renewed our intimacy and our fami- 
lies enjoyed the social life of Augusta together. It was 
very much to me personally then and for many years 
afterwards to have such a friend. He was healthful, 
hearty, and always congenial. 

The father and mother of Captain Seth Williams 
opened their hospitality to the commander of the ar- 
senal and his wife, and various other members of the 
Williams family gave us their fellowship and the 
entree into their homes. The Fullers, the Lamberts 
(Allen and Thomas), the Merrills, the Childs, the 
Tappans, the Manleys, Governor Coney, and many 
others afforded an entrance into society which has 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

always been gratefully recalled by Mrs. Howard and 

Here we first became acquainted with the Eev. E. 
B. Webb, D.D., pastor of the Congregational church, 
who was perhaps Mr. Blaine's strongest friend, and, 
if I may say so, he and his were even more intimate 
with my family and always unselfishly devoted to my 
best interests. 

We sometimes, while in Augusta, attended the 
Episcopal church. Rev. Mr. Armitage, then a young 
man, made a strong impression upon us. He was an 
able and efficient minister, who subsequently became 
the Bishop of Ohio. 

It was while at Augusta that I spent much of my 
leisure in training horses. I had brought on with me 
from Watervliet a beautiful Arabian called Mallach, 
and it was a great pleasure, on his back, to gallop over 
the country. Pure white, with silver mane and tail, 
rather tall, with slender limbs and small feet, Mallach 
in his best days was ideal. 

Two army officers during their first vacation from 
instructing cadets at West Point made a trip to Can- 
ada. One of them was Lieutenant A. J. Perry, who 
afterwards became a brigadier general and quarter- 
master of high order, and another was Lieutenant 
George B. Cosby, of Kentucky, who became a general 
in the Confederate Army. The third was Lieutenant 
William Silvey, then an assistant professor at the 
Military Academy. They had gone to Canada by rail 
and steamer, but concluded to purchase horses and 
ride across the country from Quebec to Augusta, Me. 
Mrs. Howard and myself entertained them at the ar- 
senal, and Lieutenant Perry sold me his horse, which 
I called a " Canuck." He was jet black, fat and 


Graduation from United States Military Academy 

round, and very swift in his motions. Being taught en- 
tirely in the French language, it was for some time 
difficult for me to manage him. If I said whoal and 
drew the reins taut, he would go fast, and if I drew 
them more or with a view to checking his speed, he 
would go faster. 

Later I purchased an unbroken colt and trained 

My brother, E. B. Howard, at the time a college 
student at Bowdoin, paid us a visit. He took as much 
interest in the horses as I did, and I remember giving 
him his first lessons in scientific riding. On one occa- 
sion, with some show of pride, he complained that I 
corrected him too severely in the presence of witnesses, 
men and women, who were looking on ; but I think that 
the riding lessons did him much subsequent service. 

The latter part of July, 1856, after one year's stay, 
I was relieved by Captain Gorgas, of Georgia, and re- 
ceived orders which sent me back to Watervliet. I left 
my family behind with my mother at Leeds. Mrs. 
Waite now formed part of it. They remained there till 
they could come on with my brother Rowland, who was 
to live with us at Watervliet and attend the Law School 
at Albany. I went ahead with our belongings to get 
everything in order for them. 

Very few changes had taken place at Watervliet 
during my absence, but I saw very soon that the po- 
litical struggles in the country were having a serious 
effect upon the relations of our families. The officers 
themselves were not yet particularly estranged from 
each other, but differences were becoming very sharp 
and sometimes chronic. Mrs. Symington was a great 
leader in all discussions. She could not bear to be 
beaten at euchre or whist, and she was very pro- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

noimced in her expressions of dislike toward any who 
were inclined to favor the abolition of slavery. Lieu- 
tenant Boggs had married the eldest daughter, Miss 
Mary Symington. He and I had the north stone house, 
he occupying the south quarters. Boggs, though from 
Georgia, was always very mild in his statements. I 
remember that an escaped slave came to the arsenal 
for assistance. He needed food and money enough to 
get to Canada. Boggs laughed at him but told him 
he would give him food as he would anybody that was 
hungry. He then turned to me and said laughingly, 
" Howard, it is against my principles to help a slave 
escape from his master. You can do what you choose." 
That poor black man, at any rate, avoided the marshal 
and succeeded in reaching the Canada line. 

I was not yet very pronounced in my sentiments, 
but my brother, already an ardent Republican, was 
educating me to a completer expression, especially 
against the extension of slavery into the new terri- 

It was not long before my family came and we es- 
tablished the household anew, thinking that we would 
be at Watervliet for at least a year. 

None of us in the family were at this time members 
of any church, but I had made up my mind to have 
family gathering in the morning just before or just 
after breakfast, at which time a chapter of the Scrip- 
tures should be read. My brother, who was then a lit- 
tle inclined to skepticism, said to me, " Otis, why do 
you do that ? " I replied to him that I could not tell 
him why, but that I had mada up my mind to do just 

The Hon. Ira Harris, afterwards the United States 
Senator for New York, was the Dean of the Law 


Graduation from United States Military Academy 

School at Albany. My brother entered there under 
his supervision and went through a part of the course. 
He had a comfortable room with us and immensely en- 
joyed our home life. He was particularly devoted to 
our little boy, and as the latter grew they had lively 
times together. Everything went on smoothly until 
the latter part of December, 1856, when I was sur- 
prised, as I would have been by a clap of thunder from 
a clear sky, by an order from Washington instructing 
me to proceed at once to the Department of Florida 
and report to General W. S. Harney, who was com- 
manding that department — war existed and I was to 
be " Chief of Ordnance " in the field. It was another 
promotion, but it cost my family and myself a com- 
plete breaking up, for I could not take them with me. 
It would not be safe for me to do so in any event. I 
made no ado; did not ask for delay, but hastened 
every preparation. After the storing of such things 
as could be retained and the selling of much of our 
goods at a loss and parting with the carriage and 
horses, I was ready to obey the orders. 

It was the coldest season that I had ever known on 
the Hudson. I set out from Watervliet on December 
23d. It showed how well I had studied up the route, 
for I wrote home from Brooklyn : " It is by steamer to 
Savannah; thence by steamboat to Palatka on the St. 
John's River; thence by stage to Tampa." Tampa was 
then a small village near Fort Brooke, and Fort 
Brooke was at the time the headquarters of the De- 
partment of Florida. 




AFTER the most fatiguing ride through the sand 
and over palmetto roots for three successive 
days and nights from Palatka to Tampa, I arrived at 
Fort Brooke and found several officers of General W. 
S. Harney's command out in the offing of Tampa Bay, 
and ready to start southward as soon as the tide would 
permit. Getting my supper and a change of clothing, 
I had myself rowed out to the long and queerly con- 
structed steamer.^ The surface of the water was 
smooth in the bright moonlight and the atmosphere 
as warm as that of a summer evening in the highlands 
of the Hudson. 

General Harney, the department commander, was 
then at Fort Myers and wished me to report to him 
there. The steamer swayed back and forth, tugging 
at her anchor, and, weary as I was, I enjoyed the gen- 
tle breeze, just cool enough for comfort. It seemed to 
me, while walking the deck for a few minutes, that I 
had passed from winter to summer into a new and 
charming world. 

Early the next morning I was again on deck watch- 
ing the new scenes as we sped along southward. We 
never went out of sight of the pretty coast line. The 

1 This steamer, named The Fashion, had subsequent to this a most re- 
markable career, ending up as an ironclad in the Confederate Navy. 


In Florida, 1856-57, and the Seminoles 

land presented a variety of colors bordered all along 
with the white streak of the sandy beach, and was 
quietly beautiful though without a single elevation in 
view. By one o'clock we were at Punta Rassa, a mili- 
tary post at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River. 
Here was stationed one company of the Fifth Infan- 
try, Captain N. B. Rossell in command. What I re- 
member particularly about Punta Rassa is that the 
forests came down very near to the mouth of the river, 
and that the mosquitoes were more abundant and of 
a larger size than any I had ever seen before. They 
were so greedy that they attacked not only the soldiers 
but the animals ; the dogs would run out into the water 
of the bay to escape from them. 

We ascended the river in a small boat on which we 
could use a sail in case of a favorable breeze. The 
river was as charming as could be, a simple succession 
of green-bordered lakes. Of course, in military com- 
pany our attention was called to the point where Gen- 
eral Harney had been surprised by the Indians and 
obliged to escape in his night clothes. There he had 
had some forty men killed. We were shown where he 
ran down the river some seven or eight miles and was 
saved by being taken off in a skiff. 

Against a head wind we made our way, and at last, 
between eight and nine o'clock at night, landed at Fort 
Myers. How kind the officers were in those days to 
one another ! Lieutenant W. W. Burns, though he had 
never seen me before, extended to me his hospitality. 
From his quarters I promptly visited my commander. 
General Harney. Harney was very cordial and evi- 
dently glad to see me. He rose before me like a giant, 
six feet and a half, straight and well proportioned; 
said at one time to have been the handsomest man in 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the service. He was already gray, with just enough 
red in his whiskers to indicate what they had been in 
their best days. His characteristics were peculiar; 
always impatient when things went awry, his language 
was then rough in the extreme. I noticed, however, 
that occasionally a good-natured oath would escape 
him even when he was pleased. At this time of life 
Harney's memory was not very good. He did not 
appear to reason at all, but jumped to his conclu- 
sions. Notwithstanding this weakness, everybody 
said, " Harney has always been a good soldier." 

Captain Pleasonton of the dragoons was in the 
same room with his general when I reported. Very 
young looking, pleasant in his speech, though always 
serious, Pleasonton, as Harney's adjutant general, 
usually managed to improve his administration of 
aifairs, whether commanding an expedition or a de- 

The next morning we left Fort Myers to return to 
Tampa. In the small boat were General Harney, 
Captain Pleasonton, Dr. McLaren, the surgeon, eight 
soldiers, and myself. We had hardly started out 
before our general was in a rage. First the mast was 
improperly set; then one of the men was behaving 
badly, interlocking his oar with the others at every 
stroke. When reproved, the man laughed in the gen- 
eral's face, sprang behind the mast and defied him. As 
Harney seized a boat hook to chastise him. Dr. Mc- 
Laren interfered, saying that the man was unques- 
tionably insane.^ Then Harney instantly desisted, 
smiled, and said, "I suppose the fellow thought I 
would kill him." 

By noon of January 9, 1857, we were on board The 

> The doctor's opinion later proved to be true. 


In Florida, 1856-57, and the Seminoles 

Fashion, which we found ready at the mouth of the 
river. Our return journey was very pleasant, and the 
next morning we anchored close to the city of Tampa, 
running in to shore with a small boat. 

When we arrived, the steps which were usually 
let down to the boat were not in readiness, and the 
general was angry again. When at last the steps 
were properly planted he cried out, " Too late, too 
late ! " for he had managed to spring ashore without 

That afternoon I was assigned to ordnance duty at 
the Tampa depot. This depot consisted of two rough 
main buildings and a separate office far from the gar- 
rison of Fort Brooke, but on its grounds. One of the 
buildings was a small magazine where powder and 
fixed ammunition were stored, and the other held 
everything that belonged to the equipment of the 

The population of Tampa at that time did not ex- 
ceed six hundred people, half of whom were negroes. 
The officers' quarters ran along the bay. A beautiful 
shell walk was on the city side with some shrubbery 
and flowers: the whole front was charming. There 
were very many large live oaks which, with their broad 
evergreen branches, rendered the reservation habita- 
ble even in the warmest season of the year. 

There was in the town a small public house at which 
all the officers who were in Tampa without their fami- 
lies boarded. It was called " Duke's Hotel." At this 
place I took my meals in a dining room always filled 
with flies. 

At first Major W. W. Morris, Fourth Artillery, who 
later became colonel and then general, was in command 
of the post. He was a good specimen of the severe 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

disciplinarian of the old school and known to all the 
officers who had served in the Mexican War. His good 
wife, Mrs. Morris, was very kind to me as a young offi- 
cer, and rests in my mind as my beau ideal of what we 
call an " army woman." She knew how to make the 
commanding officer's quarters a place for constant and 
pleasant reunions, and every young man was ready to 
do anything he could to make her life pleasant, no mat- 
ter how great were the privations of the frontier. Our 
garrison was made up partly of the Fifth Infantry and 
partly of the Fourth Artillery. Colonel John Munroe, 
who was the lieutenant colonel of the Fourth Artil- 
lery, returned from a furlough and immediately as- 
sumed command. Munroe was a peculiar character, 
inclined to conviviality, but always full of those re- 
sources which delighted young men around him. His 
humor was constant and he had a fund of anecdote 
which never failed him. He had a very black little 
colored boy about twelve years old, who had a broad 
mouth, white teeth, and large eyes that were constantly 
blinking and rolling in a droll way. One day when I 
was at the colonel's quarters he took pains to illustrate 
his ideas of the discipline and government of such a 
boy. He said, " William, come here ! " 

As he approached, the lad said, " What is it? " and 
he began to back away when he saw that the colonel 
had a couple of small withes in his hand. 
" Oh," he said, " you come here ! " 
The little fellow would approach and work his 
mouth and roll his eyes and pull back and say, " What 
want, colonel? what want? " 

" Oh," said Munroe, " I want to whip you." 
" What for? hain't done nothing; what for? " 
" Why, just to make you a good boy ; whip you in 


In Florida, 1856-57, and the Seminoles 

the morning before you have done anything, and then 
you will be a good boy all day." 

The colonel undertook to switch him, though not 
very hard, but William danced about, laughed aloud, 
and kept crying, " Hain't done nothing ; hain't done 
nothing; don't whip me, colonel." 

On one occasion Munroe took me to task because 

I had concluded not to drink and declined a treat. 

" What! " he said, " why so, why so? " 

"Because," I said, "I have found that when I 

haven't much to do if I accept a treat in the morning 

the desire for the repetition keeps growing upon me." 

" That's it, is it? " he said. " Do you know what I 

do when I feel that desire ? " 

" No," I said, " I can't conceive what you do." 
" Ah," he said, " I always take a little more." 
And I think that he often did. He was always 
serious and ready for business in the early morning, 
but got through with whatever he was obliged to do by 
twelve o'clock; after that he gave the rest of the day 
to his enjoyments. His adjutant, Lieutenant Geo. W. 
Hazzard, was a scholarly man of rather a skeptical 
turn of mind. During the summer his wife joined him 
at the garrison and I knew them both very well. Dur- 
ing the war Hazzard became at first the colonel of an 
Indiana regiment, but the severity of his discipline 
seemed to displease the patrons of the regiment, and 
he was induced to resign, and went back to his place 
in the artillery. 

I saw Hazzard in battle and I never knew an officer 
who could bring a battery into place and serve it with 
more rapidity. His great vigor kept all his command 
well in hand aid made his battery of twice the value 
of any other that I ever saw. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Major McKinstry was our department quarter- 
master, a large, fine-appearing man of strong charac- 
ter. One day McKinstry, Kilburn, the able commis- 
sary, Lieutenant Oscar A. Mack, who was an assistant 
in the commissary, and I were talking together when 
the subject of dueling came up. It was already against 
the law for an officer to engage in a duel, but the prac- 
tice was not yet fully over. I made a remark that I 
would not fight a duel. I remember that McKinstry 
took me to task for it and gave me several instances 
where he said it was imperative that an officer should 
accept a challenge. He made this assertion : " Sup- 
pose, Howard, you should be challenged to fight, and 
you declined, then you would be posted." 

I hardly knew what that meant, but I declared that 
my contestant might " post " me if he chose. 

" Why," he said, " you would be proclaimed as a 

" That would not make me one," I answered. " I am 
not a coward, and probably the time will come, if I live 
long enough, to show that I am not." 

The conversation dropped at this point, but the rec- 
ollection of it recalls the feeling that existed among my 
comrades that it would be difficult in the army to carry 
out the new law against dueling. 

From the time I left home till June 1st my duties 
of receiving ordnance supplies and issuing them to the 
troops were constant, though not very onerous. At 
that time I was taking great interest in books, espe- 
cially in religious reading. 

I cannot tell for what reason, but after consider- 
able activity in operations in every direction from 
Tampa as a center, Harney asked to be relieved, and 
Colonel L. L. Loomis, of the Fifth Infantry, became 


In Florida, 1856-57, and the Seminoles 

the commander of the department. This was a very 
helpful change to me. Colonel Loomis, a member of 
the Presbyterian Church, soon showed great interest 
in whatever concerned me. As often as he could he 
would converse with me and give me books, booklets, 
and tracts, for he said, " Howard, you have an inquir- 
ing mind." I absorbed all these books with great avid- 
ity. About this time my brother Rowland became a 
pronounced Christian, gave up his law studies and 
went into the ministry. He naturally wrote me ac- 
counts of his Christian experiences and sent me well- 
selected books. Among them was the life of Captain 
Hedley Vicars of the British Army. 

I had a small office building near those of the ar- 
senal, which I fitted up for use and made my sleeping 
room. In that little office, with my Bible and Vicars's 
Life in my hands, I found my way into a very vivid 
awakening and change, which were so remarkable that 
I have always set down this period as that of my con- 
version. It was the night of the last day of May, 1857, 
when I had the feeling of sudden relief from the de- 
pression that had been long upon me. The joy of that 
night was so great that it would be difficult to attempt 
in any way to describe it. The next morning every- 
thing appeared to me to be changed — the sky was 
brighter, the trees more beautiful, and the songs of the 
birds were never before so sweet to my ears. 

Captain Vicars, who had been a good man and a 
Christian in the Crimea, and a consistent member of 
the Church of England, afterwards, under the influence 
of a single verse of the First Epistle of John, " The 
blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin," had experi- 
enced a wonderful change, so that his influence over 
his comrades in arms was more marked and his Chris- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

tian work in the hospitals among the sick and wounded 
so increased and so enthusiastic as to leave a striking 
record. My own mind took a turn like that on reading 
the account of it : What was it that made him such a 
different man from what he had ever been before? 
Later, the influence of the same Scripture produced 
that strong effect upon me and caused me ever after 
to be a different man, with different hopes and differ- 
ent purposes in life. 

There are always epochs in the lives of young peo- 
ple, and surely this was an epoch in my own career. 
There was only one church of any activity in Tampa — 
the Methodist. The clergyman, Mr. Lynde, had been 
at one time a Catholic priest, and was a very earnest 
preacher. He showed me so much kindness that I have 
always remembered him as just the kind of a friend 
that I needed at that time. One night I was sitting in 
the back of his church when, after the Methodist fash- 
ion, amid continuous singing, he called people to come 
forward to the altar. Quite a number arose and 
worked their way down to the front ; among them was 
a poor hunchback woman whose gait in walking was 
very peculiar. I noticed some young men on the other 
side of the church, that I knew, laughing at her gro- 
tesque appearance. I asked myself, "Which would you 
rather be, on the side of those who were trying to do 
God's will, or on the side of the scoffers? " I instantly 
rose and went to the front and knelt at the altar. Mr. 
Lynde, in tears, put his hands upon my head and 
prayed for me. I was not conscious of any particular 
change in myself, but I haji taken the public stand, 
which caused quite a sensation in our garrison. Some 
of the officers said that I had disgraced the uniform; 
others that I was half crazy; but a few sympathized 


In Florida, 1856-57, and the Seminoles 

with me and were my friends then, and, in fact, ever 

Great sickness came npon the garrison during that 
summer and fall, and several officers were helpful in 
the care of the poor fellows who were prostrated with 
malarial fever. Many died and were buried in the little 
cemetery close at hand. Tampa was a field for self- 
denial and Christian work. 

Hazzard at one time took me to task in a jocose 
manner and pointed out to me in his scholarly way cer- 
tain discrepancies in the Bible and asked me how I ac- 
counted for them. I answered him that I could not 
then tell, but perhaps I might be able to explain them 
at some future time. 

At Yorktown, during our Civil War, Hazzard and 
I were walking together back of McClellan's works 
when a single round shot came rolling along the road 
and I thought I could strike it with my foot, but Haz- 
zard cried out, " It is going too fast ! " and pulled me 
back. At that time even he was asking me to explain 
to him how to become a Christian and get such peace 
as he thought that I had obtained. Of course I ex- 
plained the matter to him as well as I could. It was 
not very long after that before one of those same 
round shot struck him in the thigh and gave him a 
mortal wound. His friends have told me that he be- 
came a very decided Christian before his life ebbed 
away in the hospital to which they carried him. 

Our new department commander in Florida was 
very active in his operations with a view to close out 
the war with the Seminoles, but there was no great 
battle. The regulars had little faith in the war itself. 
It was a frequent remark by our regular officers : " We 
haven't lost any Indians." Of course, however, they 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

did their duty, but without much ardor or enthusiasm. 
It was not the case, however, with the volunteers. 
They usually had well-selected officers, but the major- 
ity of the companies were made up of the roughest ele- 
ment. Very often they would involve in their attacks 
Indian men, women, and children and take very few 
prisoners. As far as the Indians were concerned, they 
behaved very much like the Bashi-bazouks of Turkey. 
Our department commander did not like the reports 
that came from this rough campaigning and he made 
up his mind to try hard to secure some sort of peace 
with the few remaining Indians in Florida. 

One day in June Colonel Loomis sent for me and 
told me that he wanted me to go as a peace commis- 
sioner to the Indians in the Everglades, and explain to 
them how easy and advantageous it would be for them 
to submit to the Government and end the war. If pos- 
sible I was to find Chief Billy-Bowlegs and use all the 
influence I could with him to get him to take his tribe 
and join the remainder of his people in the Far West. 

I undertook the mission, first going to Fort Myers 
and getting the interpreter, Natto Joe, and an Indian 
woman with her child, who was still detained at that 
post. This I did as quickly as possible. The woman 
in her miserable condition, poorly clad, wrapped in an 
army blanket, looked as if she were beyond middle age, 
but her child, who was perhaps five years old, with a 
comfortable gown and two or three necklaces of blue 
beads, had a healthy look and was really pretty. She 
would, however, shake her hair over her face and act 
as shy as a young broncho. When white men were 
about she generally clung to her mother's skirt, en- 
deavoring to hide herself in its folds. 

With some difficulty Natto and I took these people 


In Florida, 1856-57, and the Seminoles 

with us to Fort Deynaud. There we found Captain 
Brown with two companies of the Second Artillery. A 
classmate, Lieutenant S. D. Lee, was in command of 
one of the companies. 

Captain Brown, leaving but a small guard behind, 
took with him the two companies, his and Lee's, and 
wagons with supplies for ten days, and escorted me 
and my charge into the interior. We went toward 
Lake Okeechobee. Lee and I were close friends and 
we had a happy expedition. The forests through 
which we made our way, the sweet open glades within 
which we encamped for the night, and the easy 
marches of every day, I have never forgotten. All this 
experience was new and fresh to me and everything 
in nature filled me with an enthusiasm which much 
amused my companion. While en route I found a 
short sleep of twenty or thirty minutes better than any 
other refreshment, and here began my habit of taking 
short sleeps at the halts in the midst of active cam- 
paigning. Lee said, " Howard thinks a nap better than 
a toddy " ; and so indeed in time it proved to be. 

On arriving at Lake Okeechobee a wonderful trans- 
formation took place in our Seminole woman. She 
bathed her face again and again ; she managed to re- 
pair her clothing; she beat the tangles out of her 
matted hair. Taking some roots, powdered and soaked 
in water, and thus producing a soapy substance, she 
washed her hair till it was smooth and glossy. She 
also found ways of beautifying her child. From a hag- 
gard old squaw she was transformed into a good-look- 
ing young woman. She promised us so faithfully that 
she would bring us into communication with her people 
that with some reluctance I gave her instructions and 
let her go. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Natto was afraid to accompany her. He had been 
too long and too evidently a friend of the white man 
to risk the journey. I hoped almost against hope that 
Mattie, as we called the Indian woman, would prove 
true and bring about a meeting with her tribe, but I 
was to be disappointed. I could not, after many 
trials, get an interview with any chief. My mission 
was, to all appearances, a failure. Still, it is prob- 
able that the news the woman carried helped to bring 
about the peace which was secured by Colonel Loomis 
soon after I had left his department — a peace which 
has lasted without interruption from that time till 

On our return, not far from Lake Okeechobee, while 
we were crossing a long strip of meadow land which 
the daily showers had refreshed and brightened, I wit- 
nessed for the first time a wonderful mirage. Lee and 
I were riding some distance from the command. Sud- 
denly we saw what appeared to be the whole command, 
soldiers, ambulances, and army wagons, lifted high in 
air and moving along with regularity amid the clouds 
in the sky. Such a mirage was familiar to officers and 
soldiers who had served on the plains, but to my vision 
it was a startling sight. It was a complete illusion. 
My companion and I rode on toward the point where 
we supposed Captain Brown and his men were march- 
ing and had come, as we supposed, quite near them 
before the vision disappeared. 

After my peace expedition into the interior I has- 
tened back as quickly as possible to Tampa and found 
on my office desk a bundle of letters which greatly de- 
lighted me. The first one I opened was from my 
mother, giving me the news of the birth of our second 
child, whom we subsequently named Grace Ellen. She 


In Florida, 1856-57, and the Seminoles 

was born on June 22d in our home at Leeds, Me.; I 
myself was that day at Fort Deynaud, Fla. 

One evening, July 15th, found me at the Metho- 
dist prayer meeting. Our department commander, 
Colonel Loomis, with his white hair and beard, was 
leading the meeting when I entered. He was reading 
a portion of Scripture, after which he spoke in his 
quiet, confident style, making remarks very edifying to 
the people, and then, standing erect and looking up, he 
led in a simple prayer. It was a great comfort to me 
at that time to find a commanding officer so fearless 
and exemplary and so sympathetic with every Chris- 
tian effort. 

About this time the sickness among the volunteers, 
some of it extending to the regulars, increased, and 
there were many deaths. I remember one poor fellow 
who had become almost a skeleton. He was very anx- 
ious to be baptized as a Baptist and he was not satis- 
fied that Mr. Lynde, the Methodist clergyman, should 
perform the ceremony. He was too weak to go where 
there was sufficient water. Before long we found in 
the neighborhood a farmer (Mr. Branch) who had at 
one time been ordained as a Baptist minister. As soon 
as he heard of the earnest entreaty of the sick man he 
came, and I aided him to fill a large bathing tub with 
water, and with the doctor's assent and cooperation 
we let the invalid gently down into the water while Mr. 
Branch baptized him with the usual formula of his 
Church. The result of the baptism revived the man 
and for some days he was much better, but the fever 
had reduced him too much for a complete recovery. 
Before I left Tampa he died and received a soldier's 

Tampa was the center to which all the officers of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

that station in Florida came. The garrison was usu- 
ally changeable, but there were many companies of 
volunteers and several of the regulars, particularly of 
the Fourth Artillery, who served for some time at Fort 
Brooke, so that I came in contact with a great many 
officers of the regular army and of the volunteers and 
made their acquaintance. Recently I have thought of 
the names of nearly all who remained for any length 
of time at Tampa Bay. Of these, all except one or two 
became pronounced Christian men and united with the 
Church, though many of them not till years after our 
Florida experiences. 

That remarkable summer when there was so much 
sickness and death and such faithful preaching, with 
our commander sympathizing with every Christian 
effort, influenced most of the officers and many of the 
men to change the character of their lives. Our expe- 
rience there constituted an epoch in the religious his- 
tory of Tampa to which evangelists in writing and 
speaking have since often referred. 

On August 17, 1857, my friend Captain Kilburn, the 
chief commissary of the department, told me that he 
had been informed that I was to go to West Point as 
an instructor. I made this note concerning the news : 
" I hope it is a mistake, for it seems that I could not, 
for any reason, now desire to go there." This remark 
indicates to me that I did not in any way seek the 

Captain Kilburn was right. The orders soon came 
for me to proceed from the Department of Florida and 
report to the superintendent of the Military Academy. 
I left Tampa August' 20th, going north by the ordi- 
nary stage route, reaching Palatka the 23d. At Pa- 
latka, to my delight, I found a new steamer called the 

In Florida, 1856-57, and the Seminoles 

Everglade, instead of the old General Clinch, which 
had taken several days to bring me from Savannah 
to Palatka. The Everglade had modern conveniences, 
so that the numerous passengers, many of them army 
officers changing station or going on leave, had a short 
and delightful passage down the St. John's Eiver and 
up the coast to Savannah. By Friday, the 28th, I was 
in Washington and visited the office of our Chief of 
Ordnance. By September 9th I was speeding away 
from the capital northward. Some accident to a train 
ahead of me hindered our baggage so that I could not 
get my trunk Saturday night or Sunday morning, and 
had to borrow clothing of Cousin Frank Sargent to at- 
tend church. This was at Brooklyn, but I managed to 
go on to Boston Monday night, an aunt and cousin with 
me, having taken the steamer by the Stonington route, 
so that not till Tuesday afternoon did I meet my family 
at Lewiston, Me. 

Guy was then a little lad of a year and eight 
months, and Grace a babe in the cradle. A home-com- 
ing after that first separation at Watervliet and long 
absence was delightful, indeed. It was not necessary 
for me to be at West Point this year till the latter part 
of September, so that I had quite a vacation and very 
delightful visits with my family and friends before I 
reported, in accordance with instructions, to the super- 
intendent of the Military Academy. 




WITH my little family I left New York for West 
Point, September 23, 1857. We ascended the 
Hudson on the steamer Thomas Powell, and immedi- 
ately after landing went to Roe's Hotel, the only pub- 
lic house upon the military reservation. Here we took 
a suite of rooms and were rather crowded for about 
a month. At first, there being no quarters vacant, I 
could get none assigned to me on account of my low 

According to the orders from Washington I joined 
the corps of instructors ; and Lieutenant J. B. Fry, of 
the First Artillery, the adjutant, issued the following 
necessary orders : " First Lieutenant Oliver 0. How- 
ard, Ordnance Corps, having reported to the superin- 
tendent ... is assigned to duty in the Department of 
Mathematics and will report to Professor Church for 

Immediately I entered upon my duties, and for a 
time had under my charge the first and second sections 
of the fourth class. At first I was very careful to pre- 
pare myself daily by reviewing the studies in mathe- 
matics, with which, however, I was already familiar; 
later less study was* required. 

The fourth class was composed of new cadets, and, 
before many days, had been so sifted that the best pre- 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

pared students were in the two sections, called first and 
second, committed to my charge. Beginning at eight 
in the morning my recitations were an hour and a half 
for each section. I think I never in my life had a 
pleasanter duty than this school work. 

The professor in a West Point department of in- 
struction habitually visited the rooms of his teachers 
from day to day. Professor Church was very atten- 
tive to this inspection and remained with me, from 
time to time, till I was thoroughly conversant with his 
methods of teaching and recording the daily progress 
of the cadets. If I had occasion to be absent any day 
for a good reason, the professor would hear my section 
for me. 

On October 22d my family moved into the smallest 
officer's house at West Point. It was a little cottage 
just beyond the north gate and near the house and 
studio of Prof. Robert Weir. Our dwelling was called 
" The Elm Cottage." It was a story and a half house 
with tiny rooms, in which we made ourselves very 
comfortable, having escaped from the closer confine- 
ment of the hotel. The front hall of this cottage was 
just one yard square. 

At the time I came to West Point I was exceedingly 
desirous to help the chaplain, Professor French, in 
any way I could, and to open up more general religious 
privileges to the cadets, to the soldiers, and to the 
families in the neighborhood. I had it in mind then 
that I should soon leave the army and enter the Chris- 
tian ministry. This caused me to use all my leisure 
time in systematic study of a religious nature, in fact, 
my reading took that direction. 

Very early, with the permission of the commandant 
and the chaplain, I opened with a few cadets a social 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

meeting for prayer and conference. The first meet- 
ing was in a room in what was called the " Angle " 
of the new barracks. Lieutenant Henry M. Eobert of 
the Engineers and myself carried in a table, two or 
three chairs, and some benches. Only five cadets came 
to the first meeting, though the invitation had been 
quite extensively circulated. All the meetings were 
held during recreation hours, just after the cadets' 

The attendance kept increasing, while the meetings 
were held at first twice a week, till our room was filled. 
Many of the young men who attended this gained later 
a national distinction. Among them was Cadet Emory 
Upton, who, after he had attained the rank of briga- 
dier general, was for a few years the superintendent. 
He then made a change, allowing the young men to 
have their meetings on Sunday evenings in the dialec- 
tic hall of the academy. Instead of being confined to 
a half -hour's service, they were permitted to remain 
together until tattoo. This was a great privilege. 
Later the Young Men's Christian Association was 
formed and took charge of the meetings. Nearly the 
whole corps of cadets are now members of this asso- 
ciation, and the meetings have been continued without 
interruption for fifty years. 

Our commandant in 1857, Lieutenant Colonel Will- 
iam J. Hardee, had a family of two daughters and one 
son. One day Colonel Hardee and myself had a long 
walk together beyond the limits of our reservation. 
He had previously expressed a desire that I should 
teach his children and allow him to compensate me 
privately for it. At that time the officers had no pri- 
vate school for their families. I consented to do this, 
and so began an intimacy with the family that was 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

only interrupted by Hardee's relief from duty before 
the end of my term. He declared that he was fond of 
the Union, but he had made up his mind that there 
would be two governments, and as he was from the ex- 
treme South, he told me that he could not bear the 
thought of belonging to a Northern confederacy. 

I took up the Hebrew language and recited with 
some regularity to an Episcopal clergyman near High- 
land Falls. He was a scholarly man and interested 
himself greatly in my progress. Lectures, in connec- 
tion with Bible study, I delivered habitually once a 
week in what we called " the little church under the 
hill." This church where the soldiers' families at- 
tended was so arranged that a partition separated the 
altar and all that belonged to it from the main room. 
This enabled the Catholics to have their services in the 
morning, when the partition doors were opened, and 
the other people in the afternoon and evening, when 
the doors were closed. Here we had, every Sabbath 
for nearly four years, a thriving Sunday school, of 
which I was the superintendent. In this active Chris- 
tian work, cadets, the chaplain's daughters, and other 
ladies of the post assisted regularly with the music 
and as teachers. Usually in the evening we had a 
Methodist clergyman to preach and conduct the ser- 
vices. Sometimes our chaplain, who was an Episco- 
palian, would give an address, and sometimes the 
clergy of other denominations. 

I always endeavored to do something in addition 
to what my military duties proper and the preparation 
for them required. It may be said that this was not 
a fair preparation for what might be required of me 
sooner or later in the army proper ; but I do not think 
so. This training to which I subjected myself enlarged 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

my sympathies and acquaintanceship and was, indeed, 
a stepping-stone to all that followed. 

One thing that troubled me was a class distinction, 
which seemed too intense for our republican ideas, and, 
indeed, made the army itself disliked by the people at 
large. I gave much reflection to the subject of disci- 
pline and came to fully believe that it was possible to 
have a higher grade for our enlisted men and a better 
system of government by officers, especially by those 
of high rank. While considering this subject in 1858 
I wrote an article entitled " Discipline in the Army." 
There I advocated with as much force as I could a 
paternal system over against the martinet system in 
vogue. I endeavored to show that the general who 
cared for his men as a father cares for his children, 
providing for all their wants and doing everything he 
could for their comfort consistent with their strict per- 
formance of duty, would be the most successful; that 
his men would love him ; would follow him readily and 
be willing even to sacrifice their lives while enabling 
him to accomplish a great patriotic purpose. 

Indeed, I am now glad that my mind took that turn, 
for I never met a soldier who served with me in the 
great war who does not now come to me with an 
expression of appreciation and fellowship. Others, 
doubtless, have had similar experiences, but I know 
that during the Civil War the general who loved and 
cared for his men and diligently showed this disposi- 
tion to all under his command, won good will and affec- 
tion above all other commanders. 

My article, published in a New York monthly, 
caused quite a Kiommotion at West Point, at the time, 
among the thirty or forty officers stationed there. 
Even the superintendent was annoyed because he 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

thought that I reflected upon his management of af- 
fairs. Some agreed with my sentiments, but the ma- 
jority said that they were contrary to a proper mili- 
tary spirit. 

In March, 1858, the War Department sent our Sap- 
per and Miner Company, about one hundred strong, 
to Utah Territory, where some difficulty between the 
Mormons, the Indians, and the emigrants had already 
begun. Lieutenant E. P. Alexander was at that time 
in command of that company. He became an officer in 
the Confederate Army and was Chief of Artillery un- 
der Longstreet, planting his numerous batteries along 
our front at Gettysburg. One day at West Point he 
overtook me on the sidewalk and we conversed to- 
gether for some time, continuing our discussion till 
after we reached my home. He gave me two books of 
a religious character and $5 to be expended in Chris- 
tian work. One remark that he made I well remember. 
" I wish to be thought by my men to be a Christian and 
have their sympathy and interest during the expedi- 
tion to Utah." 

I have met Alexander since the Civil War and 
found him the same kind-hearted, good man that he 
was when on duty at West Point. 

Two days after that conversation with Alexander I 
addressed the Sapper and Miner Company. The little 
soldiers' church was filled, and the men, some of whom 
had families to leave, appeared deeply interested in my 
lecture. I presented to them the idea that a Christian 
soldier was the highest type. In him the sense of duty 
and contentment were combined. 

On April 21st an incident occurred in our family 
that made quite a sensation. Mrs. Howard and I had 
taken a walk toward the mountain Crow-Nest. We 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

had been away about half an hour when the nurse, 
completely out of breath from running, overtook us 
and said that the baby (Grace) was sick, very sick. 
We were near the cadets' garden. Mrs, Howard and 
I ran as fast as possible; I reached the house first, 
and found Mrs. Eobert Weir holding the child; she 
stretched her hands toward me, holding the baby, and 
said, " Your dear little lamb ! " Grace was as white 
as a sheet, with a little blood around her mouth. I in- 
stantly caught the child and turned her head down- 
ward, put my finger into her mouth and removed from 
her throat one of Guy's marbles that had remained 
there choking her for more than half an hour. The 
nurse had first run in the other direction to the cadets' 
hospital for the doctor, whom she did not find, before 
going for us. 

On December 20th a court of inquiry brought to- 
gether Colonel Robert E. Lee, Major Robert Anderson, 
Captain R. B. Marcy (McClellan's father-in-law), and 
Captain Samuel Jones. Colonel Lee had been very 
kind to me when a cadet. 

I had known Major Anderson before — noticing 
then how tenderly he was caring for his invalid wife. 
Captain Samuel Jones had been my instructor when a 
cadet, and Captain Marcy and myself were on duty at 
the same posts in Florida. To pay my respects to 
them at the hotel was a real pleasure. 

A little later came the funeral of Colonel John Lind 
Smith of the Engineers. The whole corjDS of cadets 
acted as an escort. Lieutenant Fitz John Porter com- 
manded the corps during the exercises, and I was ex- 
ceedingly pleased with his military bearing that day. 

During the summer vacation of 1859, extending 
from the middle of June to August 28th, I made quite 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

a tour northward for recreation. First, with my fam- 
ily, I visited my friend. Lieutenant C. C. Lee, at Water- 
vliet Arsenal, and there I met the venerable Major 
Alfred Mordecai and his family. Mordecai loved the 
Union, but, being from North Carolina, he concluded 
that he would not fight in a civil war, and so early in 
1861 tendered his resignation. His son Alfred is now 
a brigadier general on the retired list. He has had an 
honorable and useful life in the army, always on active 
duty in the Ordnance Department, and very successful 
in his profession. 

From Watervliet we passed on to Niagara Falls. 
On this journey I was attacked with rheumatism, 
which bowed me down, gave much pain, and made all 
who saw me think I was hopelessly disabled, yet for 
the sake of those with me I would not interrupt the 

We went forward by way of Lake Ontario and 
down the St. Lawrence, stopping at Montreal to take 
in that beautiful city and its surroundings. We had 
a few days at Quebec, a city which impressed me more 
than any other in Canada, reviving the old accounts of 
the Eevolutionary struggle and all that preceded it. 

We passed on to the Glen House in New Hampshire 
near Mount Washington, ascended that mountain and 
enjoyed the magnificent scenery. 

At last we reached my mother's home in Leeds 
about June 30th. Before this, though my suffering 
diminished the pleasure of my trip, I recovered from 
my rheumatism. The remainder of the vacation we 
passed in visiting friends. 

It was during this vacation that I began to be in- 
vited to give addresses and lectures in Maine : one at 
Farmington on July 4th; one at the city schoolhouse 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

in Leeds; another at North Leeds on a Sabbath, and 
at a church in Auburn the following Sunday, July 24th. 
A little later I undertook to give an extempore lecture, 
the first time I had tried one of any length, at an old 
schoolhouse in Livermore. My classmate in college, 
P. S. Perley, was present ; which caused me some em- 
barrassment. He, however, encouraged me to keep on 

After the outing we returned slowly by the way of 
Boston and New York to the Military Academy. The 
work of the ensuing years, 1859 and 1860, was much 
like that of the preceding. 

It was after we had returned from another vaca- 
tion, in 1860, that Prince Edward of England with his 
suite visited the Military Academy. It was quite an 
event to us and absorbed the attention of both officers 
and cadets. The prince came up October 15th, arriv- 
ing at 2 P.M. on the steamer Harriet Lane. His suite 
consisted of eight or ten gentlemen. There rushed in 
from far and near a large crowd of people, but they 
were very orderly except a few overcurious mortals 
who crowded into places where they were not invited. 

The prince was a good-looking young man of nine- 
teen, rather small of stature, modest and gentle in his 
bearing. He took much interest in everything he saw 
at West Point. He visited our buildings and received 
military honors extended to him by the corps of cadets 
on the plain. He partook of a collation at Colonel 
Delafield's quarters, in which a few invited guests, 
ladies and gentlemen, participated. He then went to 
Fort Putnam on horseback, having a small escort with 
him, and -passed down to Cozzen's Hotel, where he 
spent the night. The next morning he returned and 
visited the section-rooms. He stayed in mine long 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

enough to hear one recitation from Cadet A. H. Burn- 
ham, of Vermont. He was pleased with this. His 
suite of gentlemen continued with him as he went from 
room to room. 

This was the Prince of Wales as I saw him at West 
Point, kind, courteous, genial, without any attempt 
whatever at display, and showing no egotism. I do not 
wonder that he proves to be a good sovereign. 

During my fourth year of teaching I had been pro- 
moted to " assistant professor," which was equivalent 
to being a captain in the army. 

Here at our national school there was naturally a 
commingling of the divers elements which then consti- 
tuted the personnel of our nation, and the lines of 
attempted separation near the outbreak of 1861, run- 
ning as they did between comrade and comrade, neigh- 
bor and neighbor, and even through the heart of fami- 
lies and households, were as a rule less marked here 
than elsewhere. 

Probably no other place existed where men grap- 
pled more quickly, more sensitively, and yet more 
philosophically with the troublesome problems of se- 
cession. Prior to any overt act, however, a few mem- 
bers of our community were much disturbed, and by 
almost morbid anticipations experienced all the fever 
of the subsequent conflict. 

All the preceding winter, for example, our worthy 
professor of ethics, J. W. French, D.D., who had been 
a lifelong friend of Jefferson Davis, worked day and 
night in anxious thought and correspondence with him 
with ever-decreasing hope that he might somehow stay 
the hands which threatened a fratricidal strife. This 
excellent professor seemed to be beside himself in his 
conjectures and in the extreme fears which he mani- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

fested. But his soul was truly prophetic and thus 
early did he feel the blasts of a terrible war which even 
the radical men of the country as yet deemed im- 

A Southern man, a true patriot, Dr. French, when 
the storm broke, offered all the money he had to 
strengthen the government exchequer. There were 
cooler minds who believed that these first symptoms 
of rebellion were merely dark days of passion — the 
slieer embodiments of windy fury which time under 
the sun rays of good sense would dissipate. 

My immediate official chief was Prof. A. E. Church. 
From the first his heart and speech were bubbling over 
with patriotic fervor. Our superintendent, ex-ofificio 
commander of the post, was Colonel Eichard Delafield. 
Twice had he served at West Point, twelve years in all, 
so that more than a thousand graduates felt the direct 
influence of his inflexible example and the impress of 
his rugged nature. 

Delafield was the embodiment of able administra- 
tion; very exacting in his requirements, and, like the 
just judge, precise and severe in his awards of punish- 
ment — so much so that he appeared to us subordinates 
at times to have eliminated all feeling from his action ; 
but this was his view of discipline. How much, in the 
retrospect, we admire a just ruler! And how com- 
pletely, after the teachings of experience, we forgive 
the apparent severities! On March 1, 1861, Colonel 
Delafield gave place to Colonel A. H. Bowman, who 
held the superintendency from that time till near the 
close of the war. Bowman was from Pennsylvania. 
He was a dignified officer and had been put in charge 
of the original construction of Fort Sumter as early as 
1838. With a high character and long, complete record 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

of service, he was a good man to succeed Delafield and 
to manage the academy during the war period. 

Colonel Hardee's academy service as commandant 
of cadets expired September 8, 1860. A close friend 
of his family, I never ceased to be interested in his 
career. By his uniform courtesy he won the regard of 
all associates; junior officers and cadets appreciated 
this feature of his administration. By 1861 he had 
grown gray in service; he had given to the army his 
light infantry tactics ; he had also won enviable distinc- 
tion in the Mexican War, and probably no name was 
more familiar to the people at large than his. 

January 31, 1861, the resignation of his army com- 
mission was tendered and accepted. Hardee's course 
in this matter produced quite a sensation at West 
Point. Lieutenant Colonel John F. Eeynolds, of 
Pennsylvania, almost the first to fall at Gettysburg, 
succeeding Hardee at the academy, commanded the 
cadets till after my departure. His eminent loyalty to 
the Union, clearly m contrast with the sentiments ex- 
pressed by Hardee, and his ardor in hastening forward 
from the academy the higher classes for junior officers, 
then in great demand at Washington, were ever re- 
membered in his favor. Lieutenant S. B. Holabird, of 
the First Infantry, relieved Lieutenant Fry, the adju- 
tant, and remained till May 1, 1861, when on promo- 
tion as captain and assistant quartermaster in the 
staff of the army, he left us to bear his part in coming 
events. Before his retirement Holabird reached the 
head of his corps. 

Lieutenants John Gribbon and S. S. Carroll, both 
names now high on the roll of fame, filled one after the 
other the office of quartermaster at West Point. For 
a time Carroll and I, with our two families, lived under 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

one roof, dividing a pleasant cottage between us. For 
the last two months, however, of my stay I had, by a 
small accession of rank, attained a separate domicile. 
Just before that, Carroll had a visit from Lieutenant 
Fitzhugh Lee, the nephew of Robert E. Lee. How 
sprightly, energetic, and full of fun he was ! Secession 
to him was fun — it would open up glorious possibili- 
ties! He gave Carroll and myself lively accounts of 
events in the South. Once, after speaking jocosely, as 
was his habit, of the perturbed condition of the cotton 
States, he stopped suddenly for a moment, and then 
half seriously said : " Sprigg, those people of the South 
are alive and in earnest, and Virginia (his State) will 
soon follow their lead. The Union folks are apathetic 
and half-hearted. A living dog is better than a dead 
lion. You had better be up and doing or you will lose 
your chances down South ! You'll get no rank." His 
talk, so characteristic, was more real than we dreamed. 
He watched Virginia and followed her into the Confed- 
eracy. There were thirty-six officers of junior rank at 
AVest Point in 1860 and 1861 ; twenty-four from North- 
ern and twelve from Southern States. Their names 
have since become familiar to all who know our war 
history. Three of our eight professors were Southern 
born. None of them left their post of duty, or veered 
the least in loyalty to the Union. This is certainly a 
good exhibit for our national school. 

After the beginning of the year 1861 the causes of 
excitement were on the increase. The simple fact of 
Abraham Lincoln's election had been enough to inau- 
gurate plenty of military operations in the South, such 
as the capturing, by States, of forts poorly manned, 
and of arsenals which had no guards to defend them. 
Every new item of this sort had great interest for us, 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

for the evidences of an approaching collision on a large 
scale were multiplying. The story of Twiggs's surren- 
der of United States troops to Texas, followed by 
details of imprisonment and paroling, reached us in 
the latter part of February. Twiggs's promises to al- 
low the troops to go North were mostly broken. Six 
companies of the United States Infantry, including a 
few officers and men of other regiments. Lieutenant 
Colonel Reeve commanding, were obliged to give up to 
a Confederate commander. Earl Van Dorn, by May 9th. 

The organizers of the secession movement soon suc- 
ceeded " in firing the Southern heart." As we men 
from the North and South, at our post on the Hudson, 
looked anxiously into each other's faces, such indeed 
was the situation that we knew that civil war with its 
unknown horrors was at hand. 

One morning, as officers and professors gathered 
near the lofty pillars under the stone archway of the 
old academy, there was rehearsed, one after another 
adding his own paper's version, the exaggerated ac- 
counts of the terrible handling that the Sixth Massa- 
chusetts Volunteers had had from a Baltimore mob. 
" Much blood shed ! Some killed and many wounded, 
resulting in a complete break-up of the route to Wash- 
ington and the shutting off of the capital from the 
North ! " That was a brief of our gloomy news. An- 
other morning the cloud lifted. There were better 
tidings. " Baltimore recaptured by General B. F. But- 
ler!" Butler, even without General Scott's sanction, 
had appeared there in the night with enough men to 
seize and hold Federal Hill. From that fine position 
he commanded the city. 

Another occasion (May 24th) brought us the wild- 
est tales of our troops entering Virginia, and of the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

resistance at Alexandria. The new President's pro- 
tege and friend, young Colonel Ellsworth, had hauled 
down a hostile flag flying from the belfry of the Mar- 
shall House. The proprietor, Jackson, waylaying his 
descent, had shot him to death. 

I recall, as if it were yesterday, a visit of an officer's 
wife to our house, about the time General Scott had 
ordered the first movement from Washington. She 
was from a cotton State and was outspoken for the 
Southern cause. She greatly deprecated this "for- 
ward " movement. Just before leaving our house, she 
said : " If it were not for those wretched Republicans 
and horrid abolitionists, we might have peace ! " 

I replied : " The Republicans who have now elected 
their president are not abolitionists, certainly not in 
your sense of that word. They only want to stop the 
extension of slavery." 

" Ah, I tell you," she rejoined, " it is all the same 
thing! Why stop the extension of slavery? It shows 
that they are against us. It is all very plain." 

I said : " Surely, it is wise to keep slavery outside 
the free States and the territories ! " 

The lady showed intense feeling, and shaking her 
finger at me, said excitedly ; " If Mr. Lincoln has such 
sentiments as you express, sitting there in that chair, 
there'll be blood, sir, blood ! " 

Certainly, it was a great trial to Southern officers 
when the mails teemed with urgent epistles, calling 
upon them to resign their commissions, and no longer 
serve a Yankee government. " Come home ! " said the 
appeals, " and join your fathers, your brothers, and 
your friends. Do not hesitate. No man of Southern 
blood can fight against his State ! If you remain North 
you shall never darken our doors again." 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

At first our assistant surgeon, Dr. Hammond, of 
South Carolina, was much staggered. He would vehe- 
mently argue for the right of secession. Once he be- 
came quite incensed at me, who had long been his per- 
sonal friend, because I spoke disparaging words of his 
" sovereign " State. When he was relieved and sent 
to another post, I was confident that he would resign 
and join his brother, an ex-governor in South Carolina, 
but he did not. That brother wrote him that being a 
medical man, and having only benevolent functions, he 
thought he could with honor remain in the federal 

For a time in our social life there was a prevalent 
opposition to regular officers accepting commissions in 
the volunteers. Not only the Southern born but the 
Northern manifested the feeling. A letter, written by 
a Northern officer, of February 23, 1861, urging me to 
accept a professorship in North Carolina, uses these 
words : " As an officer of the army, I presume, of 
course, that you entertain no views on the peculiar 
institution which would be objectionable to a Southern 

There arose quite an ebullition to disturb the ordi- 
nary sentiment, when Lieutenant A. McD. McCook ac- 
cepted the colonelcy of an Ohio regiment of volunteers. 
A Kentucky officer, tall, dark, and strong, visiting our 
post at the time the report of McCook's action arrived, 
said loudly : " A West Point man who goes into the vol- 
unteers to fight against the South forgets every sen- 
timent of honor ! " When I confronted him and told 
him on the spot that I should probably become a volun- 
teer officer, he became angry and denounced me, dar- 
ing me ever to touch the soil of Kentucky. When we 
met again, I had passed, commanding volunteers, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

across that retaliatory soil, and my threatening friend 
had changed his manner to a submissive acquiescence. 

Next after McCook, Gouverneur K. Warren, my co- 
instructor in mathematics, accepted the lieutenant 
colonelcy of the New York Duryea Zouaves. There 
was social criticism enough, but the promotion of Mc- 
Cook and Warren seemed to the other lieutenants a 
wonderful advance. We had never met field officers 
who were not old and gray ; yet, somehow, though the 
new rank was attractive, it did not look to us quite so 
much so when we had to give up our places in the regu- 
lar army in order to join the volunteers. Our adju- 
tant general at Washington, Lorenzo Thomas, for a 
time worked strenuously to prevent it. " They are 
needed in the army proper," he averred, " more than 
ever ; we cannot spare them ! " That idea was natural. 
Most regulars of advanced age so believed. As waters 
of different temperature put into a vessel soon reach 
a medium degree, so did people of various feelings and 
sentiments in the old army arrive at a moderate con- 
servatism. " We belong to the whole nation, we do not 
want it divided ; we propose to stand by it forever, but 
we do hate this civil strife; we will not be eager to 
enter the lists in such a conflict ; certainly not merely 
for the sake of promotion. We do hope and pray that 
the differences will be settled without bloodshed." 

Quite early in the spring I wrote to Governor 
Washburn, of Maine, and offered my services. His 
reply was unfavorable. Commissioned officers of regi- 
ments were all to be elected by the men. He, himself, 
had no power to choose. But the fact of the offer be- 
came known at Augusta. Not long afterwards, about 
the middle of May, a dispatch came to me from the 
Hon. James G. Blaine, then the youthful Speaker of 


At West Point as Instructor, 1857-61 

the Maine House of Eepresentatives. It read : " Will 
you, if elected, accept the colonelcy of the Kennebec 
Begiment? " 

Over this dispatch Mrs. Howard and I had a con- 
ference. We thought it would be wiser to begin with 
a major's commission, so that I might be better pre- 
pared for a colonelcy when I came to it by promotion. 
Still, my heart began to swell with a growing ambi- 
tion ; for were not civilians without military knowledge 
taking regiments or even brigades? Surely, I was as 
well prepared as they ! I hastened to Lieutenant Colo- 
nel Reynolds, the commandant of cadets, who was 
many years my senior and had seen service in various 
capacities, and asked him to tell me about a regimental 
command. Reynolds smiled at my ardor. 

" Why," he asked, " what is the matter? " 

" Oh, I've had the tender, or what amounts to it, of 
a Maine regiment. What answer would you give, 

" You'll accept, of course, Howard." 

He then took up the army regulations and turned 
to the duties of regimental officers, folding down the 
leaves, and kindly explained a few things that a colonel 
should know. 

" Surely, Howard, you know the drill and parades, 
and it will not take you long to get well into the 

Thus encouraged I telegraphed an affirmative an- 
swer. The news of my probable election and the rapid 
call for troops from Washington, as published in the 
press, decided me to anticipate official notification and 
so, having obtained a seven days' leave, I proposed to 
set out for Augusta. As soon, however, as it was plain 
to me that our grand old Government would need my 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

services, I gave up every other plan except as to the 
best way for me to contribute to the saving of her life. 
This decision I believed, as God has His plan in each 
human life, to be according to His will. In this faith 
I prepared to leave West Point. 







rilHE cottage at West Point where with my family 
-*• I resided May 28, 1861, was a square two-story 
building, a little back from the street. This street, 
going south, passed the academy building and old 
Cadets' Hospital, and ran along the brow of a steep 
slope, parallel with the Hudson River. My cottage, 
just below the hospital, had an eastern face toward the 
river from which there was a pleasant outlook. The 
luxurious foliage of the highlands was then at its best. 
The cliffs, hills, and mountains on both banks of the 
Hudson had already put on nature's prettiest summer 
dress. If one entered our front hallway and glanced 
into the parlor and up the stairway, he would say : " It 
is a pleasant and comfortable home." 

I came home that day after my morning lessons a 
little later than usual. Before entering my front gate, 
I raised my eyes and saw the picture of my little fam- 
ily framed in by the window. Home, family, comfort, 
beauty, joy, love were crowded into an instant of 
thought and feeling, as I sprang through the door and 
quickly ascended the stairway. 

I handed my wife the superintendent's paper grant- 
ing me a short leave. " Nothing startling," I said, as 
I noticed her surprise ; " if I am chosen colonel of the 
Kennebec Regiment, I wish to be on the ground to or- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ganize it." It was short notice, less than an hour for 
preparation, as the down train passed Garrison's, east 
of the Hudson, at 1.30 p.m. 

My valise was soon packed, luncheon finished, and 
then came the moment of leave-taking, made a little 
harder by my wife's instinctive apprehension that I 
would not return to West Point. Her instinct, woman- 
like, was superior to my reasoning. In truth, I was not 
to come back ! For an instant there was a momentary 
irresolution and a choking sensation filled my throat, 
but the farewell was cheerfully spoken and I was off. 

My wife was patriotic, strong for the integrity of 
the Union, full of the heroic spirit, so when the crisis 
came, though so sudden and hard to bear, she said not 
one adverse word. I saw her watch me as I descended 
the slope toward the ferry landing, looked back, and 
waved my hat as I disappeared behind the ledge and 
trees. The swift train beyond the Hudson, emerging 
from the tunnel, caught me up, stopped three min- 
utes, and then rushed on with increasing speed and 

Thus our young men left happy homes at their 
country's call ; but the patient, heroic wives who stayed 
behind and waited, merit the fuller sympathy. 

An army officer in New York City told me of my 
election to the colonelcy as an accomplished fact; so 
that I telegraphed to Blaine that I was en route, wrote 
a brief note to my home, and went on to Boston by the 
evening train. In the early morning I walked through 
the crooked streets of Boston from the Worcester Sta- 
tion to the Eevere House, breakfasted there, caught 
the 7.30 train on the Boston & Maine, and sped off 
to arrive at Augusta before five the same afternoon. 
Here I received Mr. Blaine's reply as follows : 


Oliver Otis Howard, Colonel Third Maine Regiment 
United States Volunteers, 1861. 

Colonel of the Third Maine Regiment 

Augusta, 29th of May, 1861. 
My Dear Howard: You were chosen to the command of 
the Third Regiment yesterday and pubhc opinion is entirely 
unanimous in favor of having you accept the position. You 
will be at once notified of your election officially. The regiment 
is enlisted for three years, and will be called into service at 
once. You must hold yourself ready to come at a moment's 
notice. I understand the Lieutenant Colonel is an admirable 
military man, one that will be both efficient and agreeable. 

Truly yours, in great haste, 
[Signed] Blaine. 

This letter did not reach me at West Point. As soon 
as I found that I was chosen to the colonelcy, instead 
of asking for an enabling lengthy leave of absence, 
I tendered a resignation of my army commission. 
Washington officials of the War Department were still 
obstructing such leaves, and ordnance officers were 
particularly wanted at arsenals. But the resignations 
of Southern seceding officers were promptly accepted. 

When my resignation was also accepted with a 
batch of others and published in the newspapers, many 
old acquaintances, curiously enough, thought I had 
joined the rebellion. I was not out of service at all, 
for it was five days after I received my commission 
and took the new regiment that I ceased to be an officer 
of the Ordnance Department. 

I made the Augusta House my temporary head- 
quarters. It was on the north side of State Street and 
had a long porch in front, with a balcony above it. I 
found the porch and balcony very convenient for 
meeting the officers and friends of the regiment. At 
this hotel my brother, Charles Henry Howard, a Ban- 
gor theological student, met me, shortly after my ar- 
rival, to offer himself for enlistment. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Israel Washburn was Governor of Maine. He had 
a large, strong face, full of resolute purpose, and 
habitually covered his eyes with glasses for nearsight- 
edness, so that he did not prepossess a stranger on first 
ai3proach; but the instant the introduction had passed 
a wonderful animation seized him and changed the 
whole man. He was at that time replete with patriotic 
enthusiasm and energy, and soon held a foremost 
place among the war governors of his time. 

The next morning after my arrival in Augusta, the 
governor was early in his office at the State House. 
He had hardly thrown aside his light overcoat and 
taken his chair when a young man with a brisk, busi- 
nesslike air opened the door and entered without cere- 
mony. He paid no attention to the governor's jocose 
welcome ; but, opening his large eyes to their full, kept 
his mind steadily upon the matter in hand. He said: 

" You know, governor, I recommended to you and 
to the Third Eegiment a young man from the regular 
army, Oliver 0. Howard, a lieutenant, teaching at 
West Point." 

" Oh, yes. He belongs to Maine — to Leeds ; was 
born there. He was elected. Will he accept ? " 

" Howard is already on hand," answered the gov- 
ernor's visitor, " and I will bring him up and introduce 
him, if you are at leisure." 

" Certainly ! Glad he has come so soon," answered 
Washburn. " Have him come up." 

This energetic visitor was James G. Blaine. One 
could hardly find a more striking character. His fig- 
ure was good — nearly six feet and well proportioned ; 
his hair, what you could see of it under his soft hat 
pushed far back, was a darkish brown. It showed the 
disorder due to sundry thrusts of the fingers. His 


Colonel of the Third Maine Regiment 

coat, a little long, was partially buttoned. This, with 
the collar, shirt front, and necktie, had the negligee air 
of a dress never thought of after the first adjustment. 
His head was a model in size and shape, with a fore- 
head high and broad, and he had, as you would antic- 
ipate in a strong face, a large nose. But the distin- 
guishing feature of his face was that pair of dark-gray 
eyes, very full and bright. He wore no beard, had a 
slight lisp in speech with a clear, penetrating nasal 
tone. He excelled even the nervous Washburn in rapid 
utterance. Nobody in the Maine House of Eepresen- 
tatives, where he had been for two years and of which 
he was now the Speaker, could match him in debate. 
He was, as an opponent, sharp, fearless, aggressive, 
and uncompromising; he always had given in wordy 
conflicts, as village editor and as debater in public as- 
semblies, blow for blow with ever-increasing momen- 
tum. Yet from his consummate management he had 
already become popular. Such was Blaine at thirty 
years of age. 

When I was presented the governor arose quickly, 
took my right hand in both of his and shook it warmly. 
" Many congratulations, my young friend. Your regi- 
ment is already here — across the way. You must has- 
ten and help us to get it into shape. At first you will 
find ' the boys ' a little rough, but we've got you a first- 
rate adjutant, haven't we, Blaine f " 

" I think, governor, you will have to let the colonel 
choose his adjutant and organize his staff himself," an- 
swered Blaine, smiling. That reply was heplful to me, 
and Washburn rejoined : 

" Well, well ; all right," adding pleasantly : " Intro- 
duce Burt to the colonel. I guess they'll agree. Don't 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

" Be sure, Governor Washburn," I said, " I shall al- 
ways respect your wishes and we will soon be ready 
for the front." 

" Just so, just so. How I like the true ring. "We 
will put down this rebellion in short order with this 
sort of spirit ; eh, Blaine ? " Thus Washburn ran on. 
Blaine laughed as he quietly assured the governor that 
he was too sanguine. " If you had come from a place 
as near the border as I did, you would not emphasize 
short order ; not much ! My mind is fully prepared for 
a long siege." 

" As God wills," said the governor, rising. " Now 
let us go down and introduce Colonel Howard to ' the 
boys.' " 

I was sure that Mr. Washburn felt satisfied with 
my election. His first three years' regiment — a thou- 
sand strong — made up of his friends and neighbors, 
was to be commanded by one who had received a mili- 
tary education, and who had at least some army ex- 

Slender of build, and at the time pale and thin, I 
did not seem to those who casually met me to have the 
necessary toughness, but for reasons of his own, per- 
haps owing to his nearsightedness, Washburn gave 
me immediate confidence. 

We three then left the governor's room, descended 
the broad steps to the east, crossed State Street, and 
proceeded along a gravel path to about the center of 
a grovelike park. This was a public lot which extended 
along the street for some distance and then east 
toward the Kennebec an eighth of a mile. A portion of 
that beautiful inclosure was alloted to my regiment. 
In fact, it already had possession. The choicest of 
everything belonged to the men at that time. They 


Colonel of the Third Maine Regiment 

had new clothes (a gray uniform), new guns, new tents, 
new equipments, and new flags, and were, as I saw, en- 
camped amid beautiful shrubbery, sweet-scented flow- 
ers, and blossoming trees. But one glance showed me 
that the camp itself was in disorder. A thousand re- 
cruits were there under captains and lieutenants who 
themselves were new to the business; here and there 
older men, women and children were mingled in groups 
with the soldiers. Parents had come to see their 
sons before they set out for the war. Young wives 
and sweethearts were there; but notwithstanding the 
seriousness of the occasion, there was more gala ex- 
citement than solenmity. Many soldiers were even 
jubilant; some had been drinking and some were 

" Oh, pshaw, father! Don't be gloomy; I shan't be 
gone more'n two months." 

" Come, mother, don't be alarmed ; this will be a 
short trip." 

" Hurrah, hurrah ! Down with the saucy curs ! 
We'll make short work of this business; only let's be 

Such scraps of conversation caught our ears as we 
passed near the groups. At one place a scene more 
pathetic reminded me of home. A wife with a child in 
her arms stood by a man in new uniform and was shed- 
ding tears while trying to hear her husband's kindly 
directions and hopeful predictions. 

Quickly the people gathered near the stout gover- 
nor ; but he was too short of stature to see more than 
those near at hand, so noticing something elevated (an 
overturned half -hogshead) upon which he could stand, 
Washburn stepped on it and began speaking in his 
cheery way. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Some soldiers in a loud voice called : " Cheers for 
our governor ! " A large number responded in strong, 
manly tones. 

" Thank you, thank you, boys ; I have brought you 
somebody you will like to see. Come up here, Colonel 
Howard. This is your new colonel." 

All eyes turned steadily toward me as soon as I had 
mounted the rostrum and was standing beside the gov- 
ernor ; but the cheers called for were noticeably faint. 
How young, how slender the new colonel appeared; 
hardly the man to be placed over strong, hardy fel- 
lows whose frames were already well knit and tough- 
ened by work. In spite of their vote two days before, 
a reaction had set in — it was evidently not quite the 
welcome thing for these free spirits to be put under 
anticipated West Point discipline. Some of the cap- 
tains who had been to see me at the Augusta House the 
night before were already somewhat disaffected. They 
said : " Under Tucker, the other candidate for colonel, 
we could have had a good time, but this solemn How- 
ard will keep us at arm's length." Blaine continued to 
befriend me. He told them that they would need men 
like me if ever called to fight. " In time, I assure you, 
you'll not be sorry that you chose him." 

I attempted an address, but had spoken only a few 
words when a remarkable silence hushed the entire as- 
semblage; a new idea appeared to have entered their 
minds and become prominent: I pleaded for work in 
preparation for war, and not a few months of holiday 
entertainment, and hurrah boys to frighten and dis- 
perse a Southern rabble by bluster ; after which to en- 
joy a quick return to our homes. 

Grood men and women were glad for this evident 
change of front, and murmured around me : " God 


Colonel of the Third Maine Regiment 

bless the young man and give him health and 

I had hoped that the officers of the regiment would 
elect my brother Rowland, a Congregational minister, 
chaplain. It would have been a great comfort to have 
had his companionship and counsel, but the Rev. An- 
drew J. Church, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
was preferred. Later Rowland went to the front as 
an agent of the Christian Commission. My disap- 
pointment was lessened by my younger brother's en- 
listment and detail as regimental clerk. This brother, 
Charles H. Howard, obtained his first commission as 
second lieutenant in the Sixty-first New York, was 
with me on staff duty till 1865, and received deserved 
promotion from grade to grade till he became a lieu- 
tenant colonel and inspector general. He was later 
made colonel of the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth 
colored regiment and was finally brevetted brigadier 
general for gallant and meritorious conduct during the 

The proper form and order of an encampment were 
soon instituted and all the staff officers, commissioned 
and noncommissioned, appointed. Sergeant Edwin 
Burt, suggested by the governor, was made adjutant. 
Military knowledge and experience were then of great 
service. Burt, in time, by worthy promotion, became a 
lieutenant colonel and lost his life. May 6, 1864, in the 
battle of the Wilderness. 

William D. Haley, of Bath, filled two offices, regi- 
mental quartermaster and commissary, and Dr. G. S. 
Palmer, of Gardiner, that of surgeon. One of the non- 
commissioned staff, the commissary sergeant, Joseph 
S. Smith, of Bath, became, in time. General Sedgwick's 
brigade division and corps commissary with the rank 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

of colonel. The field officers were Lieutenant Colonel 
Isaac N. Tucker and Major Henry G. Staples. The for- 
mer, who turned out to have no aptitude for military 
command, resigned during the first year and Staples 
took his place. Captain Charles A. L. Sampson suc- 
ceeded Tucker as major. A very worthy lieutenant, 
James H. Tallman, followed Haley on his leaving the 
service the first year as regimental quartermaster. 
His efficiency gained him afterwards promotion in the 
regular army. The administrative functions of my 
regiment were thus fully provided for, even though the 
officers designated had had no experience. Some es- 
sential drilling was all I attempted at Augusta, just 
enough to enable me to move the regiment in a body 
and to load and fire with some degree of precision. 

The call from Washington soon reached our gov- 
ernor; my regiment must be ready to go forward by 
June 5th. The time was too short and my duties too 
engrossing even to warrant visiting my parents at 
Leeds, though but twenty miles distant. I, therefore, 
sent my brother to bring my stepfather and my mother 
to the city. But they had anticipated me. Fearing 
from a rumor the sudden departure of the regiment, 
they had under the unusual circumstances traveled on 
Sunday and come all the way that day to relatives in 
Hallowell, three miles distant from our camp. Here 
we had a family meeting. 

The morning of June 5th was beautiful. The 
sun shone from a cloudless sky; the fruit trees and 
the luxurious lilacs were in full bloom; the maples 
in every part of Augusta were thick with leaves as rich 
and charming as fresh green could make them. Very 
early the city was astir ; soon it was out of doors. The 
dresses of women and children furnished every variety 


Colonel of the Third Maine Regiment 

of coloring, and little by little the people grouped them- 
selves along the slope to the Kennebec River. Bright- 
buttoned uniforms were noticeable among them. The 
groups, varying in size, were in gardens, on hillsides, 
and upon porches, front steps, balconies, and all conve- 
nient housetops. All eyes were turned toward the 
railway, which ran southward not far from the river 
bank. The cars could easily be seen by the people. 
They were loaded inside and out, and always sur- 
rounded by a dense crowd of lookers-on. 

Opposite the State House, at the outer edge of the 
multitude, I noticed a single group. The father, past 
middle life, stood watching as the men were placing 
tents and other baggage upon freight cars. Near him 
was a son talking hopefully to his mother : " Keep up 
heart, mother, and look as much as you can on the 
bright side." 

" Oh, yes, my son, it is easy to talk, but it is 
hard " 

She did not finish the sentence, but after a few mo- 
ments and tears, commended him to the keeping of 
the Heavenly Father and urged him not to forget Him 
or home. 

Finally, the whistles blew significantly and the en- 
gine bells began to ring. There were many last em- 
braces, many sobbing mothers, wives, and dear ones; 
then streams of bright uniforms rushed down the 
slopes to the trains. 

Slowly these trains moved out of Augusta. Heads 
were thrust out of car windows ; and the tops of rail- 
coaches were covered with men, sitting and standing. 
Before the trains had disappeared, the regimental 
band struck up a national air. But there was no re- 
sponsive cheering from the cars. Hats and handker- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

chiefs were waved, and here and there a small national 
flag shaken out, as if to suggest to the waiting people 
the object of our departure. 

Who can forget his last look at that multitude on 
the hillside — the swift motion of waving handker- 
chiefs, flags, and outstretched hands! A curve in the 
track shut off the view; and thus departed this pre- 
cious, typical freight of war. 

At Hallowell, where we tarried a few minutes, my 
brother Charles and I parted with our mother. Then 
and ever after I sympathized with soldiers who left 
true, loving, watching hearts at home. But the relief 
from oppressive sentiment was found in absorbing 
duties and active work. 




npHE varying scenes which interested the soldiers 
-^ and the people during that memorable journey 
were too abundant for record. At railroad stations in 
Maine, on the approach and departure of our trains, 
there were abundant cheering and words of encourage- 
ment. However, here and there were discordant cries. 
Few, indeed, were the villages where no voice of oppo- 
sition was raised. But, later in the war, in the free 
States after the wounding and the death of fathers, 
brothers, and sons, our sensitive, afflicted home people 
would not tolerate what they called traitorous talk. 
They went so far as to frown upon any vigorous young 
men who clung to the home roof, and found means to 
compel blatant offenders to hush their utterances, and 
shake out to the breeze some semblance of the old flag. 
This conduct was imperious ; it was earnest ; it had its 
counterpart in the South; it meant war. 

As we came whistling into the large depot at Bruns- 
wick, where Bowdoin College is located, professors and 
students, forgetting their wonted respectful distance 
and distinction, mingled together in the same eager 
crowd, and added manly vigor to the voices of enthusi- 
astic lads who were crowning the fences and gravel- 
cars and other sightly places. Unexpected tears of in- 
terest, warm hand-pressures, and " God speed you, my 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

son," revealed to some former students, now soldiers, 
tenderness of heart not before dreamed of among those 
gray-haired instructors. 

At Portland, Maine's largest city, we met a marked 
demonstration. Food, drink, and flowers were brought 
to the cars and freely offered, but we could not delay, 
though the people asked to extend a more formal wel- 

At Boston, early in the afternoon, a company of 
guards in spotless uniform and with wondrous perfec- 
tion of drill paraded before our soldiers in their somber 
gray and escorted them through the eddies and whirl- 
pools of city people, along the winding streets and out 
into the Common. Bunker Hill, Breed's Hill, the Old 
South Church, and other ancient sentinels, which had 
observed the beginnings of our liberty, looked solemnly 
and silently upon us as we passed. Surely, many of 
us would die before the boastful threat of Eobert 
Toombs to count his slaves on Bunker Hill should be 
carried out. Boston Common ! How beautiful, as we 
marched in, was its green, undulating surface; how 
pretty the lawns and little lakes ; how grateful and re- 
freshing the shade this hot June day. 

The governor, John A. Andrew, of large heart and 
brain, who with his staff had come out from the State 
House to meet us, gave us a welcome in well-chosen 
words; but the hospitable multitude excelled on that 
occasion. The choicest supper was spread upon long 
tables, which were stretched out so as to barricade our 
way. My thousand men were never better fed or 
served, because mothers and daughters of Massachu- 
setts were ministering to them. Our enthusiasm under 
such cheer and amid such surroundings underwent no 
abatement. All spoke to us in a language plainer and 


En Route to the Front 

deeper than words : " Go, fight for your flag, and free 
the land." 

From my boyhood the sight of a large steamer has 
been grand to me, and in my eyes the Bay State, 
at Fall River, exceeded all others. That night, June 
5th, it took on the thousand soldiers, and they seemed 
to make little impression on the vast passenger space. 
This superb transport ferried us the length of Long 
Island Sound as it, or its sister ships, had ferried thou- 
sands before us. 

A committee of a New York association called the 
" Sons of Maine " met our steamer at the pier on North 
River. Unfortunately for us, it was a stormy day and 
the rain poured incessantly. In ordinary times there 
would have been little stir in New York City on such an 
arrival, particularly in the mud and slush of most 
unpropitious weather; but then the excitement ran 
high; nothing could dampen the patriotic fervor of the 
people, and crowds besides the " Sons of Maine " came 
to see us land. R. P. Buck, Esq., a native of Bucksport, 
was a fine-looking, well-dressed merchant, and the 
chairman of the committee. He took me by the arm 
and, led by the committee, regardless of moist clothes 
and wet feet, preceded by a military and police escort, 
the regiment marched via Battery Place and up Broad- 
way to the White Street city armory. Twenty years 
after our walk in the middle of Broadway I dedicated 
a book ^ to my conductor in these words : " Whose heart 
beats with true loyalty to his country and to the Lord, 
his Saviour. From the time when he with other friends 
welcomed my regiment when en route to the field to 
the city of New York till to-day he has extended to me 
the tender offices of friendship and affection." 

' Count Ag^nor de Gasparin. Translated from the French of Thomas Borel. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

After our men had entered the drill hall of the ar- 
mory they unslung their knapsacks and arranged them 
near the wall for seats. As soon as there was order the 
" Sons of Maine," by their committee, gave notice that 
they wished to present a flag to the regiment. Stewart 
L. Woodford, the youthful statesman, whose wife was 
a daughter of Maine, was selected to make the presen- 
tation speech. There was in it a mingling of serious- 
ness and humor characteristic of the orator. Standing 
where all could see him, Woodford said : " I expected 
to present this standard to you in the Park. I am 
somewhat surprised that soldiers of Maine should not 
have faced the storm, for as soldiers you should have 
learned to keep your powder dry, and as citizens of a 
State that has given the temperance law, you ought not 
to be afraid of God's cold water. 

" Each mother has given to her boy in your ranks 
that fittest pledge of a mother's love — her Bible. Each 
dear one has given some pledge that speaks of softer 
and sweeter hours. Your brethren in this hour of bat- 
tle would give you a strong man's gift — your country's 
flag. Its blended stripes shall stream above you with 
protection. It is the flag of history. Those thirteen 
stripes tell the story of the colonial struggle, of the 
days of '76. They speak of the wilderness savage, of 
old Independence Hall, of Valley Forge and Yorktown. 
Those stars tell the story of our nation's growth; how 
it has come from weakness to strength, from thirteen 
States to thirty-four, until the gleam that shines at 
sunrise over the forests of Maine crimsons the sun- 
set's dying beams on the golden sands of California. 
Let not the story of the flag be folded down and lost 
forever. . . . 

" We give this flag to you, and with it we give our 


En Route to the Front 

prayers, and not ours alone ; but as the loved home cir- 
cle gathers, far in the Pine Tree State, gray-haired 
fathers and loved mothers will speak in prayer the 
name of their boy." Turning to me, he said : " Sir, in 
behalf of the * Sons of Maine ' I give you this flag ; 
guard it as a woman guards her honor; as children 
keep the ashes of their father. That flag shall float in 
triumph on your avenging march, as those steel fingers 
point the way through Baltimore to Sumter. That flag 
shall hover with more than a mother's care over your 
head. We hear to-day above the sound of the conflict 
the voice of the archangel crying, ' Victory is on the 
side of liberty ; victory is on the side of law.' With un- 
broken ranks may your command march beneath its 
folds. God bless you ! Farewell ! " 

I thanked the donors for the flag, saying : " I was 
born in the East, but I was educated by my country. I 
know no section ; I know no party ; I never did. I know 
only my country to love it, and my God who is over my 
country. We go forth to battle and we go in defense 
of righteousness and liberty, civil and religious. We 
go strong in muscle, strong in heart, strong in soul, be- 
cause we are right. I have endeavored to live in all 
good conscience before God and I go forth to battle 
without flinching, because the same God that has given 
His Spirit to direct me has shown me that our cause is 
righteous ; and I could not be better placed than I am 
now, because He has given me the warm hearts of as 
fine a regiment as America has produced." 

I then called for cheers for New York; for the 
Union; for the Constitution and the President of the 
United States. The response was given with tremen- 
dous effect, every man springing to his feet the instant 
the call was made. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

A few encouraging words were spoken by Eev. 
Eoswell G. Hitchcock, then a leading divine in the 
city; after which Dexter Hawkins, Esq., a fellow- 
graduate of Bowdoin, and then a lawyer of New York, 
in the name of the " Sons of Maine " invited the 
commissioned officers to dine with them at the Astor 
House. The remainder of the regiment dined at the 

Eev. L. C. Lockwood, on behalf of a generous lady 
and the Young Men's Christian Association of New 
York, presented to the regiment 250 Soldier's Scrip- 
ture Text-books and 200 Patriotic Song-books. Those 
books often relieved the monotony of army service, and 
the songs enlivened tired groups around many a camp 

At that armory, before our hospitable entertainers 
had set out with the officers for their dinner, I met with 
a mishap which somewhat marred my comfort. While 
I was standing on the limber of a gun carriage, using 
it for an elevated platform in speaking and giving 
commands, some one accidentally knocked out the prop 
from under the pole. The sudden shock caused me to 
lose my balance and spring to the floor. I alighted on 
my feet, but attached to my belt was my heavy saber, 
which fell, striking my left foot with great force. My 
great toe nail was crushed and has troubled me ever 
since. This was my first wound in the war. 

My friend, Mr. Buck, has since told this incident of 
the Astor House dinner : " When at the close of the 
menu we had risen, and with our wineglasses in hand 
were about to pledge the young colonel in a patriotic 
sentiment, he seized a glass of water and said : ' I join 
you in a drink of cold water, the only beverage fit for 
a soldier.' You should have seen," Mr. Buck added, 


En Route to the Front 

"how we all hustled around to get our glasses of 
water ! " 

Surely, my conduct did not appear very gracious, 
but I was eager to keep strong drink of any kind from 
the regiment, and knew that I must set an example 
to the officers. I did not dream that our hosts would 
thus follow my lead. 

My wife and children had come down from West 
Point. They joined me at the hotel and after dinner 
bade me and my regiment good-by as the ferryboat to 
New Jersey left the New York slip, many men of the 
regiment courteously uncovering in their honor and 
waving them a farewell. 

Philadelphia gave its entertainment. The rain was 
over. We received a delightful supper between eight 
and ten; abundance of food on tables set in squares. 
Ladies clad in white and adorned with flowers, with 
gentle voices, made us feel that we were already heroes, 
when with quickness and grace they moved within and 
without the squares to replenish our plates or fill our 
cups with steaming coffee. Loyal men and women 
breathed upon us a patriotic spirit which it then seemed 
no danger would ever cause to abate. 

After the bloody passage of the Sixth Massachusetts 
through Baltimore a few days before our arrival in 
that city, the succeeding troops from the north had 
been conveyed to Washington in a roundabout way 
via Annapolis, thus avoiding the riotous mobs. My 
regiment was among the first to resume the direct 
route. In order to be able to protect ourselves in that 
city, I had ordered the men supplied with ten rounds 
apiece of ball cartridges. 

A handsome police escort met the incoming train, 
reported to me as I left my coach, and were placed 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

where they could clear the way for my column, which 
must march from station to station, a distance of about 
two miles. As soon as I had walked to a central place 
in the depot yard with a view to seeing my troops 
properly drawn up in line, a few persons, approaching 
slowly, came up behind me and, taking my hand, 
pressed it warmly. 

A large crowd were waiting and interestedly 
watched our disembarkation. Every face in the pro- 
miscuous crowd which I saw had a look of apprehen- 
sion or smothered passion. We might, like our com- 
rades of Massachusetts, have trouble en route. 

To be prepared was my part. The line being 
formed facing me, I ordered " Load with cartridges, 
load ! " wheeled into a column of platoons after the old 
fashion and started the march, following the city es- 
cort. We were then self-confident — ready for anything 
that might occur. The places of business were closed, 
giving a gloomy effect. No flags of any description 
were flying. All people appeared under some fear or 
repression. They were silent, yet curious and observ- 
ing. We made the march, however, without disturb- 
ance, entered cars again at the Baltimore & Ohio 
Depot on Camden Street, and after moderate delay 
were on the way to Washington. While the baggage 
was in process of transfer I was invited to dine with a 
Union man at his house. I found there my host and a 
few chosen friends who were in sympathy with us. As 
soon as the doors were closed, everyone breathed more 
freely and heartily spoke his sentiments. With these 
men, already Unionism had become an intense passion 
and, like Maccabeus of old, they had a holy hatred, 
very pronounced, of individual enemies of the Gov- 
ernment. They declared that the bloody riot which 


En Route to the Front 

had stained their streets with blood was not the cause, 
as claimed, but simply the occasion of the rebellious 
conduct of prominent city and State officials. " Be on 
your guard, colonel," they urged, " against the seem- 
ing friendship and pretended loyalty of smiling vil- 
lains." Matters just then, not only in Baltimore, but 
in many other parts of Maryland, were dark and uncer- 
tain. It was a critical period. Families were dividing 
and old friends at feud. 

These things being so, it was a little strange that 
the ominous silence on our arrival had not been broken 
and our bold march through the flagless city inter- 
rupted. I believe that the possession of Federal Hill 
by Butler's soldiers and our own loaded muskets had 
much to do with the quietude of our passage. From 
this time on, Baltimore communication was never again 

The evening of June 7th, as we steamed into 
the ample Baltimore & Ohio Depot at Washington, 
we felt that our eventful journey was over. However 
proud and independent the individual soldier might 
feel, he found at once that he could not pick up his 
personal baggage and go straight to a hotel. An offi- 
cer of Colonel Mansfield's staff with our own regi- 
mental quartermaster met us and led the way to a 
vacant building near by on Pennsylvania Avenue. 
What at some subsequent dates would have been 
counted luxury did not seem so then — a bare floor, a 
chairless room without table or lights was but a cold 
reception, a depressing welcome to their beloved cap- 
ital, for whose preservation they had been ready to 
fight to the death. The contrast to the previous hearty, 
patriotic receptions was so great as to bring on a gen- 
eral attack of homesickness. Feeling for them the next 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

morning as one would for a homesick youth just ar- 
rived at college, and knowing the need of removing 
at any cost a universal depression, I consulted with 
my commissary and arranged to give the entire com- 
mand a breakfast at Willard's for fifty cents a man. 
Just think of it, to feed a whole regiment at a hotel! 
My army friends did laugh, and I had to confess my 
lack of wisdom according to ordinary reasoning, for 
I thus became personally responsible for the large 
amount. But after a spirited correspondence the State 
finally settled the account. 

I reported at an early hour on June 8th to Colonel 
Joseph K. F. Mansfield, Inspector General of the 
Army, commanding the Department of Washington. 
He was already frosted with age and long service. 
Probably from his own Christian character no officer 
of the army then could have inspired me with more 
reverence than he. At that time Mansfield appeared 
troubled and almost crushed by an overwhelming 
amount of detail thrust upon him ; but after two hours' 
delay he assigned me my camp on Meridian Hill. 




/^N June 8th, the day our veteran commander, Gen- 
^-^ eral Winfield Scott, penned his famous letter 
to old General Patterson favoring his projected cap- 
ture of Harper's Ferry, my new regiment was march- 
ing along Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourteenth Street 
to Meridian Hill. When we began the march the heat 
was intense. The men were loaded down with their 
knapsacks, haversacks, and cartridge boxes. Friends 
at home and along our route had been so generous that 
much underclothing, books, and keepsakes had been 
stowed away by the men, so that the weight for each 
was extra heavy. Again, these old-pattern knapsacks 
sagged, bound the arms, hurt the shoulders, and 
wearied the muscles of our young soldiers. Many a 
brave-hearted youth gave up, sat down by the way, 
or dropped out of ranks for water or rest and that 
before the end of the first three miles of bona fide 
marching. When about half way on the Fourteenth 
Street stretch a sudden storm arose, attended by wind, 
fierce lightning, and a pouring rain. The storm was 
at its height as the regiment began the last ascent, 
and then, somewhat quieter, continued till dark. 
About the time the rain set in one poor fellow left the 
ranks and undertook to get over a fence; he pulled 
his loaded musket after him with the muzzle toward 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

him. As the hammer struck a rail or stone an ex- 
plosion followed, inflicting upon him a desperate, dis- 
abling wound — and yet so far from any battlefield! 
How fruitless now to his vision appeared his ardent 
patriotism; how dim all anticipated glory! Thus it 
was with many another who had left home full of life, 
setting forth with fiery eyes and glowing cheeks, only 
to be arrested by a premature wound or prostrated 
by camp fever. Thus that short five-mile march was 
the beginning of the hardships and experiences of 
real war. 

Tell me, soldiers, you who have bivouacked on the 
Bad Lands of the Missouri or endured the severities 
of winter in the Eocky Mountains, did anything quite 
equal the first stormy night under canvas ? To arrive 
on new ground, muddy and sticky; to work in wet 
clothes; to put up tents, soaked, dirty, and heavy; to 
be where a stick of wood is precious and fuel is be- 
grudged you — where it is a crime to burn a fence rail ; 
then to worry out a long night without sleep for fear 
of a fatal cold ; every veteran has had somewhere such 
an experience. The Kennebec men endured the trial 
the first night on Meridian Hill. President Sampson 
and other friends from Columbian College near by 
offered to many of us hospitality which is still grate- 
fully remembered. Colonel Charles D. Jameson with 
the Second Maine was encamped on our flank ; he, his 
officers, and men took compassion on our forlorn con- 
dition, and gave all who were not otherwise provided 
for an ample supper, including the soldiers' hot coffee. 
Jameson's regiment having preceded us a few days, 
had already comfortable tents and a general prepared- 
ness for storms. They housed us all for one night. 

The beautiful June day which succeeded that night 


Camping in Washington 

set everything to rights. Tents were pitched in proper 
order and the strictest of camp regulations instituted. 
Here on Meridian Hill, in keeping with the lot of many 
another army officer, my popularity both on the spot 
and in many homes of the Kennebec Valley, where let- 
ters from camp found their way, greatly suffered. At 
first I granted passes freely, but finding many viola- 
tions of them, I was obliged to stop them entirely. 

One day in solemn conclave a delegation of sol- 
diers came to my tent to reason with me and to re- 
monstrate. Their complaints were many and pro- 
found; but they may be condensed into a sentence: 
"Why make the innocent suffer for the guilty?" It 
was extremely difficult for an independent freeman 
to see why he should not go when he pleased and 
have an interview with Generals Mansfield, Lorenzo 
Thomas, or Winfield Scott. Famous men were in 
Washington. It would be an opportunity lost not to 
see them in their official chairs. There was also their 
own President, Abraham Lincoln, for whose election 
many of them had contended in the political campaign 
of 1860; and there was the White House; could not 
every citizen avail himself of the poor privilege of 
just one visit? Furthermore, think of the Capitol, 
glorious and immense, though still without its crown- 
ing Goddess of Liberty. How was it possible to be so 
near and yet be allowed only a distant glimpse? Sure- 
ly, the colonel would give abundant passes to the good 
and true? But I could not. They believed I would 
not. The regiment must be drilled, disciplined, and 
made ready for war. Ours was not a holiday excur- 
sion. The petitioners departed answered but not con- 

Two West Point lieutenants, Buell and McQuesten, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

were sent to me to give the elementary instruction, or, 
in military i^hrase, " to set the men np." These young 
officers added to the severities. Once, when I had been 
cadet officer of the day at West Point during a cadet 
disturbance which I could not quell, I myself was pun- 
ished by the superintendent. Thus the responsible 
innocent suffered for the irresponsible guilty. Substi- 
tutive penalties in military affairs are expedient. By 
them men learn to govern their fellows. I now found 
this a very useful military doctrine, but not popular 
with volunteers — more tolerable, however, after a few 
battles, when they saw what havoc want of discipline 

What a military school was that on Meridian Hill ! 
In bright memory I see them now — the men and the 
officers of my regiment before sickness and death had 
broken in — the major, the surgeon, the captains and 
lieutenants, and the entire staff; I recall the faces. 
The hard drill was the real beginning of our repute. 
Washington came at sunset in carriages to witness our 
evening parade. I had these men in but one battle, 
but they had a great history, especially after Colonel 
Moses Lakeman, one of my captains, succeeded Staples 
as colonel. Being called the " Fighting Colonel," he 
developed the energies of his regiment till it took high 
rank in Sickles's corps. It gave any flank strength to 
find the Third Maine there. Its presence made a rear 
guard confident, but its own chief pride in campaign 
or battle was to be in the lead. The officers very soon 
looked back to that exacting first colonel who insisted 
on close discipline and much drill, and forgave his 
severity. But at first there was considerable chafing; 
my brother, still a private in the regiment, on June 29th 
wrote to a friend : " We had a good deal of excitement 


Camping in Washington 

the night of taking the oath ; fifty or sixty men refused 
at first, but after a few words of explanation they 
rallied under the colors at the command of Colonel 

That June 29th I was made to sympathize with 
the poor fellows upon whom a radical change of life 
had brought illness. Suddenly, without previous 
symptom or warning, I suffered from an attack of 
something like cholera. So rapid was my decline under 
it that for a time our good surgeon. Dr. Palmer, had 
little hope of arresting the disease; but my brother's 
devotion, the firmness and skill of my doctor, and the 
care given me by the wife of Captain Sampson, with 
the blessing of God saved me at death's door. Then, 
to complete my good fortune, just as I began con- 
valescing, the mother of my friend. Lieutenant S. S. 
Carroll, took me in her carriage to her home in Wash- 
ington. Her gentle nursing gave me just those things 
which would nourish and strengthen, and soon restored 
me to the field and to duty. Her generous husband and 
herself always made their house a home to me. To 
my comfort the surgeon after that incisive attack con- 
gratulated me and himself on my solid constitution. 
" More recuperative energy than I have ever elsewhere 
met," he said. Later, I learned that President Lincoln 
kindly called twice at my tent and inquired for me 
while I was unconscious. 

Washington in June and to the middle of July, 
under the immediate administration of Colonel Mans- 
field, was a scattered camp. Kegiments crowned every 
height; officers in uniform thronged the streets and 
crowded the hotels. There appeared to the looker-on 
great confusion; not yet any regular, well-appointed 
force. Everybody talked; newspapers published and 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

sometimes magnified idle rumors; they made and un- 
made reputations in a day. No one seemed to know 
what was to be done or what could be done. Alexan- 
dria, over the Potomac, was occupied by our troops; 
the new Confederate flag, unfolded to the breeze on a 
Virginia hill, waved its stars and bars in plain sight 
of the Capitol, and thus boldly challenged our rulers 
to a conflict which was destined either to wreck or 
establish our Union. State governors came on to 
Washington with their regiments; prominent citizens 
hastened thither with their proposals; avaricious deal- 
ers were on hand to make their fortunes. The White 
House, the departments, the hotels, and all public 
buildings were densely crowded. Had that capital 
been Paris, there would have been a speedy revolution, 
and, indeed, in the words of Carlyle, it did seem for a 
time that " if somebody did not do something soon 
things would do themselves satisfactory to nobody." 

At every turn when I visited the city I met ac- 
quaintances or was introduced to strangers who after- 
wards became distinguished — Governor Fenton, of 
New York, quiet, watchful, self -poised ; Governor Cur- 
tin, of Pennsylvania, with his tall form, ready wit, and 
tender, benevolent soul; Senator Morgan, of New 
York, of giant proportions, large purse, and larger 
heart ; Senator Harris, of the same State, noble in bear- 
ing and in character ; Secretary Seward, dignified and 
distant to young men, sanguine of our speedy success ; 
Governor Sprague, of Ehode Island, very young, and 
putting youthful life into his well-equipped regiments ; 
his colonel, Burnside, in uniform, handsome as a pic- 
ture; Colonel A. McD. McCook, with the First Ohio 
Eegiment, never fuller of happy humor, ready for any- 
thing that might occur ; and Colonel Daniel Butterfield, 


Camping in Washington 

commanding the Twelfth New York, then encamped in 
Franklin Square, himself the best dressed, the most 
self-contained, calm, and ambitions. "We had occa- 
sional glimpses of General Irwin McDowell. For years 
I had heard and seen his name connected with the 
orders from General Scott, and was surprised to find 
him so tall and of such full build. His habitual de- 
meanor now was that of one self-absorbed and distant. 
He was the subject at that time of constant observa- 
tion and remark, for it was believed that he would 
soon command all our movable forces on the Potomac. 
Many voices around Mr. Lincoln made themselves 
heard, but all were not in his support. His cabinet, 
however, gave pretty general satisfaction. Chase, of 
the Treasury, with practical brain, could make and 
distribute the money, provided he had the handsome, 
sanguine, able banker. Jay Cooke, to help him. Mont- 
gomery Blair, the postmaster-general, with his polit- 
ical acumen, could cooperate with his brother. General 
F. P. Blair, in Missouri. The Blairs were watched 
with confident interest. Simon Cameron, in the War 
Department, a secretary, wealthy, experienced, and 
wise — how could the President have a better adviser 
than he? Most venerable of the Cabinet was Secretary 
Wells, in charge of the navy portfolio. It did us young 
men good to look upon him and upon General Scott 
because of their imperturbable faces. We needed solid 
men of age rather than ardent leaders. 

The first great excitement was from the outside. 
During the afternoon of June 11th the news of General 
Benjamin F. Butler's attempt to capture Little and 
Big Bethel came to us. Butler ordered a night march 
with the hope of surprising a small intrenched force at 
Big Bethel. It was to be a combined movement of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

three detachments — one from Fortress Monroe, one 
from Hampton, and the other from Newport News. 
Brigadier General Pierce, of Massachusetts, an officer 
without experience, was placed over the field com- 
mand. Colonel Abram Duryea, with his Fifth New 
York (Duryea Zouaves), starting at midnight, led the 
way from Hamptom, beyond the point of junction with 
the Newport News road. Colonel Bendix, with a New 
York regiment of Germans, a small detachment of New 
Englanders, and a section of a regular battery under 
Lieutenant John T. Greble, came next from Newport 
News to the junction. Bendix, considering the uncer- 
tainties of night work, went into ambush near the cross- 
roads. Some two hours after Duryea had passed the 
junction. General Pierce, escorted by the Third New 
York, came up by the same road that Duryea had fol- 
lowed. Bendix mistook this force for the enemy's 
cavalry and opened fire. In the resulting skirmish 
with each other some were killed and many wounded. 
The air filled with the rattle of musketry created for a 
time a panic, and of course the secrecy of the expedi- 
tion was over. At last all of our men passed Little 
Bethel and were before the small fort, which was fairly 
well manned with Confederate infantry and a few field 
guns. My friend and classmate, John T. Greble, while 
effectively firing his cannon against the fort at short 
range, was instantly killed. We had been next-door 
neighbors at West Point and had long lived in affec- 
tionate intimacy, so this blow was most afflicting to me. 
He was the first regular army officer to fall in the 
Civil War, and was immediately officially recorded as 
a brevet colonel. Though he had not this grateful 
recognition in life, yet his patriotic and worthy family 
appreciate and cherish the record. 


Camping in Washington 

I wrote home : " Poor John Greble's death struck 
me like a thunderbolt. It seems to have been a disas- 
trous fight under incompetent leaders." 

But now in the retrospect one hardly casts blame. 
Experience and the habit of working together would 
have hindered the panic at the junction. The famous 
Magruder and D. H. Hill were on the other side in this 
combat. The victory then gave them joy and confi- 
dence — extravagant, indeed, but thus it was in both 
armies early in the war. Modesty and mutual respect 
appeared in reports and dispatches only later. 

Before leaving Augusta Mr. Blaine and I were talk- 
ing of the army to be organized from the volunteers. 
He remarked : " You, Howard, will be the first briga- 
dier from Maine." Of course the proposition to me, 
accustomed only to wrinkled captains and white-headed 
field officers, appeared visionary. 

Later, July 4th, I answered another friend who 
made the same suggestion : " I am as high as I desire. 
What could I effect in a higher position? I do not 
think there is any likelihood at present of taking me 
from my regiment." 

Yet, three days later, I received a note from the 
War Department directing me to select three regi- 
ments in addition to my own to constitute a brigade of 
which I as the senior colonel was to take command 
and conduct them to Alexandria. 

On July 6th at dawn I had had reveille; our men 
had promptly loaded the wagons, but the quartermas- 
ter did not get draught animals to us from the city till 
ten o'clock. That waiting indicated want of system 
and discipline. At last, proudly we marched from 
Meridian Hill back to Pennsylvania Avenue and down 
Sixth Street to the dock, the regimental band playing 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

national airs. Soldiers stepped out together with 
heads high, hopes strong, and hearts beating coura- 

After a brief halt the regiment crossed by steamer 
to Alexandria. Colonel S. P. Heintzelman, of the 
Seventeenth Eegular Infantry, had been designated 
our division commander, with headquarters in Alexan- 
dria. He brought a good record from the Mexican 
War, and was in 1861 a hardy, fearless, energetic 
character, which our undisciplined levies then espe- 
cially needed. He had a frank way of expressing the 
exact truth whether it hurt or not. 

As my full regiment, of which I was proud, was 
marching up the main street, I caught sight of Colo- 
nel Heintzelman, who had come out of his office and 
was standing near a street corner which I was to 
pass. I brought the command to a carry-arms, but 
did not halt and fix bayonets as I would have done for 
a formal review. In this order we went past him, while 
he critically noticed every fault. I went up to him, 
hoping for a compliment, but heard a nasal speech: 
" Colonel, you have a fine regiment ; they march well 
and give promise for the future, but you are not well 
drilled — poor officers, but good-looking men ! " He 
evidently enjoyed my discomfiture, and would have no 

Alexandria was more gloomy than Baltimore. The 
pavements were rough and broken; cobblestones in 
piles alternated with mudholes and pitfalls. Most 
residences were closed and empty and beautiful homes 
deserted; no business was transacted except what the 
army brought. Those who had fled and those now com- 
ing from over the Potomac were like locusts. They 
destroyed every green herb and even ate up the hedges 


Camping in Washington 

and fences. Grass, foliage, and flowers disappeared 
before army movements. 

Five miles to the Washington dock and three more 
to camp on the Alexandria side, eight in all, with the 
load each man carried, made labor enough for the first 
trial. We watched southward from the vicinity of R. 
F. Roberts's farm and had for a single brigade a wide 
front to protect. 

As soon as I received the War Department note, 
making me a brigade commander, I visited, selected, 
and brought over to my vicinity from their several 
camps near Washington three other regiments — the 
Fourth Maine, Colonel Hiram G. Berry; the Fifth 
Maine, Colonel Mark H. Bunnell, and the Second Ver- 
mont, Colonel Henry Whiting commanding. The lat- 
ter was a graduate of the Military Academy. My 
lieutenant colonel was absent, so Major Staples passed 
to the head of the Third Maine on my temporary pro- 
motion. Notwithstanding the usual depletions of new 
regiments, my command was at this time above three 
thousand strong. McDowell soon sent me forward as 
far as Mrs. Scott's farm, sometimes called " Bush 
Hill," four miles from Alexandria. The Maine regi- 
ments held the country to the south of the Centreville 
Pike, and Whiting's Vermonters had a handsome po- 
sition in a field to the north of it. 

About that time there was much camp criticism of 
McDowell, who had in charge the army of occupation 
officially called " the Department of Northeast Vir- 
ginia." The accusers said that he had too much ten- 
derness toward the enemies' property. Regular offi- 
cers were berated generally in the soldier gossip and 
in the newspapers for using up the soldiers in guard- 
ing such property. This conduct, however, did not pro- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ceed, as charged, from Southern sympathy. McDowell 
and his associates wished to prevent the demoraliza- 
tion of the soldiers, for to take property ad libitum 
would soon overturn all order and leave no basis of 
rightdoing. Heintzelman's instruction just after the 
accession of my brigade to his division is a specimen of 
the prevailing restriction : 

Headquarters Third Division, Alexandria, 

July 10, 1861. 
Colonel Howard, Commanding Third Brigade. 

Sir: The bearer of this note, R. F. Roberts, states that 
privates of the Fourth and Fifth Maine regiments have been 
committing depredations on his property, steaUng potatoes, etc. 
The general commanding wishes you to investigate the matter 
and put a stop at once to all such proceedings. If the men can 
be identified, punish them severely. 

Very respectfully, 

Chauncey McKeever, 

Assistant Adjutant General. 

Our soldiers, through the servants and escaping 
slaves, always claimed that they knew the old residents 
who were disloyal better than their generals, and they 
had firmly adopted the theory that the spoils of all 
enemies belonged to them — particularly such reprisals 
as potatoes, onions, and other vegetables. They ad- 
vocated the seizure of cattle, sheep, fowls, and pre- 
served meats, and found great need for fence rails be- 
fore their claim was admitted by the authorities. The 
wonder is that our men were not more demoralized 
than they were by our subsequent living on the country 
and foraging at will. 

Near the position of the Fifth Maine below the 
turnpike and facing toward the enemy, who was at 
Manassas Junction, with outposts at Sangster's and 


Camping' in Washington 

Fairfax Station, was a crossroad. The regiment had 
there a picket guard, the point being an important one 
and the environs much darkened by thick trees. A 
captain commanded this guard. One night the tramp 
of horses was heard. In an instant the whole guard 
was in readiness, and one may imagine how the hearts 
of new soldiers throbbed as they listened to the fast- 
approaching sounds. Three bold riders soon appeared, 
moving at a trot, one in advance. The outside sentinel 
called: "Who comes there?" The soldierly answer 
gave confidence : " Union officer and two men." 

Dressed in our uniform, they correctly answered 
every question put to them. The captain spoke a 
pleasant word and was about to let them pass when 
it occurred to him to be a little extra cautious on ac- 
count of a rumor of spies passing the lines. He said : 
" Very well, gentlemen ; you may be all right, but I will 
take you to the senior officer of my guard." Turning 
to the first man, he said : " Please, sir, give me your 
gun." The stranger, taken by surprise, cried out: 
" My gun? " then, recovering, he whirled his horse and 
with a sharp exclamation gave him the spurs. The 
captain instantly ordered : " Fire ! " The stranger 
wavered in his saddle and then fell dead to the ground, 
while his two friends escaped through the thicket. 
They had not approached so near the guard as their 
leader. The leader, as his papers revealed, was a 
young man from Mississippi. Bold and energetic, he 
had been chosen to go back and forth from Fairfax 
to Alexandria. This was by no means his first trip. 
He tried the experiment once too often. It is a sin- 
gular custom of war that the bravest become scouts 
and spies, and if unsuccessful are stigmatized with 




TO organize and mobilize the Army of Northeast- 
ern Virginia, McDowell had constituted five di- 
visions: Tyler's, Hunter's, Heintzelman's, Dixon S. 
Miles's, and Runyon's. Our division had the left from 
the Centreville Pike southeastward to the Potomac; 
Runyon's kept in or near Alexandria as a reserve; 
while the other divisions ranged northward to beyond 
Georgetown, covering a frontage of more than ten 
miles. McDowell had for mounted troops an escort 
of United States cavalry not to exceed five hundred. 

With a good body of horse and abundant reliefs of 
slaves used to hard work, Beauregard, even before 
the arrival of the Army of the Shenandoah, was surely 
well prepared with his " effectives " of 21,823 soldiers 
and 29 cannon to sustain a good defensive battle 
against the Union column of 28,568 men and 49 cannon. 

Centreville was in 1861 an inconsiderable village 
with but one street north and south, the buildings 
mainly on the west side scattered along a ridge. The 
road from Centreville to Manassas Junction followed 
the trend of this ridge southward and crossed Bull 
Run three miles distant at Mitchell's Ford. The War- 
renton Turnpike, coursing from east to west through 
the village, crossed Bull Run about four miles west 
of it at Stone Bridge. The country in the valleys of 


Battle of Bull Run 

Bull Run and its tributaries was for the most part 
woodland. The current of Bull Run was not rapid, 
but the banks were abrupt, often rocky and precipitous, 
so that it could not readily be crossed except at the 
bridges and fords. The higher ground afforded quiet 
slopes and plateaus, but everywhere so many trees had 
been allowed to grow that the farms were like glades 
of more or less expanse in the midst of a forest. There 
were no prominent points for observation, so that the 
commanding generals were obliged to work out their 
plans by maps and sketches. 

Beauregard, with his staff, fort, depot of supplies, 
force of workmen, and necessary reserves, posted him- 
self at Manassas; the right of his army, Ewing's 
brigade, at Union Mills; at McLean's Ford, Jones's 
brigade; at Blackburn's Ford, Longstreet's ; just above 
Mitchell's Ford, Bonham's; at Lewis' Ford, Coke's; 
at Stone Bridge, the crossing of the Warrenton Pike, 
Evans's demibrigade of a regiment and a half, which 
formed the left of the Confederate army proper; 
Early's brigade of four regiments was drawn up in 
rear of Longstreet and Jones as a reserve. The above 
brigades, together with some seven other regiments 
and companies not brigaded, constituted Beauregard's 
" Army of the Potomac." 

Radford's cavalry brigade was keeping watch along 
the front and south of Union Mills, and Stuart, after 
his arrival from the Shenandoah, scouted beyond 
Evans's position on the Confederate left. 

McDowell, for the sake of contracting his lines, and 
gathering his regiments under their several command- 
ers, ordered a short march, setting out from the Poto- 
mac on July 16th and sending them forward to sev- 
eral small places in Virginia not far apart. This 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

march was duly made and Heintzelman caused our 
brigades to pass the Accotink and go to the Pohick. 
When I came to the Accotink I found many men of the 
preceding brigade sitting down and taking off their 
shoes — not to wade the shallow stream, but for fear 
they might slip off the narrow bridge which was made 
of two logs placed side by side, and so wet their shoes 
and socks. Eegiment after regiment had been crossing 
in this way by file, so that each brigade before mine 
had taken full two hours to pass a stream not more 
than twenty yards wide and the water nowhere above 
their knees. This delayed my crossing till night. My 
men were somewhat incensed because I made them 
close up and march straight through the ford. They 
surely would not have been so fresh and happy the 
next morning if they had been three hours later than 
they were in getting into camp. In such small things 
as this West Point officers appeared to be too severe 
with new troops. Eemembering Professor Mahan's 
rule : " Not to imperil the success of a campaign from 
fear of wetting the soldiers' feet," they doubtless 
showed indignation and scolded regimental officers for 
wasting important time in crossing shallow streams. 

I wrote home from that first camp that two serious 
accidents had occurred to us, two men having shot 
themselves, so unused even then were our young sol- 
diers to handling rifles. In consequence of hearing 
much profanity, I wished our men had more regard 
for the Lord; we might then expect His blessing. 

Fulfilling our orders for July 17th, every command 
came up abreast of Fairfax Court House. Colonel 
Franklin and I encamped our brigades near each other 
upon a hillside. That night we reclined before the 
same map spread on the ground near a camp fire and 


Battle of Bull Run 

studied the orders for the next day which we had just 
received. Colonel Willcox's brigade had been in ad- 
vance and had branched off southward toward the 
railroad and Fairfax Station. 

" On our coming the enemy fled without a shot. We 
captured a sergeant, a corporal, and nine men belong- 
ing to the First Alabama Eegiment." 

This Confederate outpost at Fairfax Station had 
had two regiments as a guard, an Alabama and a 
Louisiana. Willcox had approached them from an un- 
expected quarter. 

The morning of the 18th Franklin and I heard 
again from McDowell. Each column had found some 
obstructions — felled trees, extra-sized breastworks at 
the court house, and equally strong outworks at the 
railway station. The Confederates retreated before 
each column; they did not draw in their pickets, most 
of whom fell into our hands ; four of our men of Miles's 
•division were wounded. To this news McDowell added : 

" I am distressed to have to report excesses by our 
troops. The excitement of the men found vent in 
burning and pillaging, which distressed us all greatly." 
Thus in general a responsible soul in an approaching 
crisis is grieved at the wrongdoing of his agents. Yet, 
notwithstanding considerable straggling, foolish de- 
lays at streams, carelessness with firearms, burning 
and pillaging on first news of success, we had accom- 
plished this first stage of approach to our enemy as 
well as General Scott could have expected. 

McDowell's instructions for the third march were 
few and comprehensive : Dixon Miles's division to Cen- 
treville ; Hunter to get as near Centreville as he could 
and have water; while Heintzelman was to move up 
to the Little Rocky Run on the road, hence to Cen- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

treville. A postscript gave zest to his message to 
Tyler, who was in front of Miles : " Observe well the 
roads to Bull Run and to Warrenton. ... Do not 
bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression 
that we are moving on Manassas." 

When that postscript was penned, McDowell had 
just changed his purpose. Till then it had been his 
plan to move on Manassas by a rapid push from his 
left, but his engineers found the roads of approach 
" too narrow and crooked for a large body to move 
over and the distance around (southward) too great 
to admit of it with any safety." 

During the 18th, as our men tramped along, a dis- 
couraging rumor ran down the column that Tyler was 
defeated. Though McDowell did not intend so much 
in his instructions, Tyler understood that he was to 
make toward Manassas a reconnoissance in force. It 
was difficult to do anything else with our fighting Col- 
onel Richardson in front. It was so quiet when Tyler 
with Richardson neared Blackburn's Ford that they 
could not detect with glasses that Longstreet was there 
with his batteries and five infantry regiments and 
Early close behind with four more, yet such was the 

Tyler naturally ordered forward a battery and 
supported it by Richardson's brigade. A few shots 
from the Union battery brought a battery response 
from the Confederates; and Richardson's supporting 
fire obtained quick and spiteful rifle retorts. One 
regiment, getting too far forward, was attacked and 
driven back. Richardson, now full of fire, begged of 
Tyler to charge with other troops and carry the en- 
emy's position. Tyler refused; for he had reconnoi- 
tered and had found a strong force. In doing so he 


Battle of Bull Run 

had lost six lives and had twenty-six men disabled by 
wounds. His instructions were plain : " Do not bring 
on an engagement " ; so Tyler was obliged to stop the 
fight. It was a small affair, but it gave the morale to 
Beauregard. Later in the war such a skirmish would 
have passed with scarcely a remark. 

The Confederate commander, General Johnston, 
had eluded Patterson, passed on to Piedmont, and then 
transported his infantry on the cars, sending them to 
Manassas, part at a time. He himself came on with 
the first trainload, reaching Beauregard Saturday, 
July 20th. His artillery, escorted by Stuart's cavalry, 
had marched. The last brigades, it is true, and the 
marching column did not get to the field of Bull Run 
till the afternoon of the 21st, but all came soon enough 
to participate in the battle. 

After his arrival, though he had been modest about 
it, giving all credit to Beauregard, Johnston, being 
senior in rank, took the actual command and saved the 
day. He had, more than any other Confederate leader, 
a decided genius for war. 

Of Johnston's army. Bee's brigade on arrival was 
placed near Coke's, and Jackson's (the sobriquet of 
" Stonewall " to the commander began here) was sta- 
tioned midway between Ball's and Mitchell's fords to 
help Bonham. Holmes's brigade, coming up from 
Aquia Creek, was sent to reenforce the right. While 
other points thus received aid, the Confederate left 
near the Stone Bridge remained slender and weak. 

Beauregard had a plan for the offensive which 
Johnston approved. It was to move out from his right 
and attack McDowell on that remarkable Sunday (July 
21st) before Patterson could join him. 

By Saturday night all the Union divisions ex- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

cept Eunyon's at Alexandria were grouped around 
Centreville. McDowell, too, had his plan. Saturday 
night (July 20th), at his unpretentious Centreville 
headquarters, he assembled his division and brigade 
commanders. His tent having no floor, he spread his 
map on the ground and explained with care the pro- 
posed movements for the morrow. He had a well-con- 
ceived order of battle. In his talk the names Tyler, 
Dixon Miles, Hunter, and Heintzelman each repre- 
sented a body of troops : " Tyler, you hold the lower 
fords of Bull Eun and the Stone Bridge, making proper 
demonstrations ; Miles's division will be behind you at 
Centreville for a reserve. Hunter, you go over Cub 
Eun along the Warrenton Pike, then take country road 
and move up to Sudley Church, or rather to the ford 
there, turn to the left, cross Bull Eun, and move down; 
when the next ford is reached Heintzelman will cross 
there and follow you. I hope to seize Gainesville on 
the Manassas Gap Eailroad before Johnston's men get 

McDowell did not then know that this wary Confed- 
erate was already at Manassas with half of his force 
and to have enough finally to more than match him in 
the engagement. Still, McDowell outweighed his op- 
ponent in artillery. 

That evening before our first battle was a memo- 
rable one. I assembled my four regiments for the 
usual parade — then we had them closed in mass and 
all the men uncovered their heads while the God of 
battles was entreated for guidance, for shielding in 
the battle, and for care of those so precious in our 
far-away homes. Every soldier of my command 
seemed thoughtful and reverent that night. 

Tyler drew his column out of camp at 3 a.m. Sun- 


Battle of Bull Run 

day. Hunter and Heintzelman were equally prompt. 
But the three divisions became badly intermixed in the 
dim light, and could not be moved in the cross direc- 
tions like three blocks of regulars. In fact, the three 
brigades of Tyler did not clear the turning point on the 
Warrenton Pike till half -past five; so Hunter waited 
two weary hours for Tyler to move out of his way, and 
the impatient Heintzehnan stood for an hour longer 
with his advance at the Warrenton Pike for Hunter's 
men to pass. My fretted brigade was the rear of this 
slow-moving column and waited with its head at the 
turnpike till the sun was an hour high. 

The fatigue, coupled with the excitement always 
existing at such a time, weakened many a strong man. 
All this bad management — what a good staff should 
see beforehand and provide against — kept Hunter's 
troops back. Instead of beginning his attack at day- 
light. Hunter was not in position across the Sudley 
Ford till after nine o'clock. Though naturally excited, 
the leading brigades were at first cheerful and hearty. 
The men, after getting started, went swinging along 
singing " John Brown's Body " with a wonderful vol- 
ume of sound. But they were soon affected by the sun, 
then extremely hot, and the want of sleep troubled 
them still more. All these new circumstances of war 
nerved the men to a tension that could not last. Be- 
fore the end of the second mile many fell out and sat 
or lay down by the roadside sick and faint. 

McDowell in the morning made a slight change of 
plan which added to the weariness of Heintzelman's 
men. He forbade us to make the short cut, and in- 
structed us to follow Hunter all the seven miles by 
Sudley Ford. In person he detained my brigade at 
a blacksmith shop not more than a mile beyoad Cub 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Eun after we had turned away from the Warrenton 
Pike toward the Sudley Springs. Mine was thus made 
a special reserve for Hunter or for Tyler as the exigen- 
cies of the conflict might demand. Here, then, with the 
thick forest in front, within sound of the battlefield, my 
Maine and Vermont men, naturally with some appre- 
hension, waited from eight o'clock in the morning till 
afternoon. I cannot forget how I was affected by the 
sounds of the musketry and the roar of the cannon as 
I stood near my horse ready to mount at the first call 
from McDowell; for a few moments weakness seemed 
to overcome me and I felt a sense of shame on account 
of it. Then I lifted my soul and my heart and cried : 
" God ! enable me to do my duty." From that time 
the singular feeling left me and never returned. 

Early in the morning we had seen McDowell, his 
staff, and escort pass us toward Sudley Springs. They 
presented a fine appearance as they trotted off, work- 
ing their way through Willcox's and Franklin's bri- 
gades, which filled the road. On, on they went to the 
head of Hunter's command, then just arrived at Sud- 
ley Church. Bumside's handsome Ehode Island bri- 
gade. Hunter's advance, which had covered his front 
with skirmishers, was then with the remainder of the 
division taking a rest. 

Burnside deployed under the eye of McDowell, and 
his front swept on, guiding itself by the Sudley and 
Manassas wagon road down the gentle slopes toward 
the valley of Young's Branch. 

Evans, the quick-witted Confederate commander 
with that demibrigade at the Stone Bridge, began to 
suspect that Schenck and Sherman, the advance of 
Tyler, notwithstanding their bustle and noise, were not 
earnest in their threatened assault; for they rattled 


Battle of Bull Run 

away with their musketry, but did no more. Evans 
first sent a regiment up the Bull Run toward Burnside 
and then very soon changed his whole front to the left 
and pushed over toward the Manassas and Sudley 
Springs road in front of Burnside's skirmishers; he 
posted his men so as to face north, covering them as 
well as he could by uneven ground and trees, but his 
numbers were few — not a thousand men, 

McDowell, on the high ground behind Burnside, not 
far from Sudley's Ford, took his post and had a fair 
view of the field, for that was the largest opening 
among those woody farms. The country in his sight 
made a handsome picture with its rolling, variegated 
features sweeping off toward Manassas. Here Mc- 
Dowell saw the skirmishers of both armies begin their 
noisy work and a few minutes later the main lines 
rapidly firing, while the field batteries whirled into 
place and commenced their more terrifying discharges. 

At 9.15 Evans's Confederates opened a vigorous 
fire, which caused Burnside's brigade to halt in con- 
fusion. Then McDowell, through his staff, hastened 
Andrew Porter's brigade to Burnside's support. 

Johnston and Beauregard before this, by eight 
o'clock, were together on a commanding hill south of 
Mitchell's Ford. Their signal officer detected our cross- 
ing at Sudley's Ford about nine. Immediately Bee 
with his brigade, Hampton with his legion, and Jack- 
son were ordered to the assailed left. Bee, the nearest 
to Evans, spurred on by the firing, reached him first and 
took up that choice position, strong as a fort, near the 
Henry house. He located there a battery and sup- 
ported it by his large brigade. But Evans was already 
across the valley northward and calling loudly for 
nearer help. Bee thereupon forwarded the most of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

his force to Evans's support. But before an hour all 
the Confederates in that quarter were driven back by 
our men to the Henry house, because Heintzelman's 
two brigades, close upon Hunter, had become actively 
engaged and the Union troops from Stone Bridge had 
worked their way to Evans's new right. Bee's Con- 
federates, running to the rear, could not quite halt or 
be halted at the Henry house, though Hampton's le- 
gion was covering their retreat. They were still going 
back when that indomitable leader, Jackson, being 
under orders and movement for another place, got 
news of Bee's trouble; he marched at once by the 
sound of battle to his relief. Several Confederate bat- 
teries were put close to the Henry house and supported 
by Jackson's infantry. Under the strong shelter of 
Jackson, Bee rallied his men. This occurred about 
11.30 A.M., at which time Jackson called for cavalry 
to extend and protect his left flank. For Stuart's 
promptness in doing this Jackson highly commended 
him, as also for his successful charges against the 
national forces. 

While their orders were being carried at a run, 
Johnston and Beauregard sped the four intervening 
miles from their commanding hill to the Henry house. 
There Johnston's presence under fire and example in 
carrying forward personally a regimental flag had the 
happiest effect on the spirit of his troops. After this 
important work and reenforcement, reluctantly leav- 
ing Beauregard in immediate command of the line of 
battle, Johnston went to the Lewis house, farther back 
and more central. Here he established his headquar- 
ters. From that point he could see the approaches be- 
yond Bull Run, particularly those to the Stone Bridge, 
and he could from that point watch the maneuvers and 


Battle of Bull Run 

movements of his own troops. Thus early in the fight, 
and constantly to the end, Joseph E. Johnston had an 
active supervision. 

On the Union side, which promised so well in the 
first onset, misfortunes began to multiply. Hunter was 
severely wounded and left the field, cannon were cap- 
tured from us, batteries that had been well managed 
were put too far in front of their infantry supports 
and lost their horses; several regiments, broken by the 
fighting, were intermingled, appearing like flocks and 
herds to be covering the slopes and the valley without 
order or organization. In the midst of this confusion 
McDowell sent his engineer officer, Captain A. W. 
Whipple, for my brigade. He was to lead it straight 
to the battlefield ; but Whipple, not knowing any cross 
route, guided us by Sudley's Ford, six miles around 
instead of three across. The immediate need of my 
troops was so great that McDowell said : " Have them 
move in double time." Whipple gave the instructions. 
We began the march in that way, but the heat and fa- 
tigue of long waiting had already done its work. Many 
fell out of ranks; blankets, haversacks, and even can- 
teens were dropped, so that those who persevered kept 
nothing but arms and ammunition ; the pace was dimin- 
ished, but that did not long avail to remedy the ex- 
haustion. Overcome by their efforts, more and more 
left the column and lined the roadside. When we 
crossed the ford, at least one half of my men were 

At that point some facetious staff officer tried to 
hasten our march, crying : " You better hurry and get 
in if you want to have any fun." Here, looking forward 
to the high ground, I saw McDowell and his small 
escort a few hundred yards off. To my left and nearer 


!A!utobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

I saw Bumside's men, who had come back from the 
field with their muskets gleaming in the sunshine. 
They had some appearance of formation and were 
resting on their arms. I noticed other troops more 
scattered ; ambulances in long columns leaving the field 
with the wounded — General Hunter was in one of 
them; there were men with broken arms; faces with 
bandages stained with blood; bodies pierced; many 
were walking or limping to the rear ; meanwhile shells 
were shrieking and breaking in the heated air. I was 
sorry, indeed, that those left of my men had to pass 
that ordeal. 

It was about 3 p.m. Away over toward the War- 
renton Pike and by the Henry house there was still a 
fitful rattling of small arms and a continuous roar of 
heavy guns. " Send Howard to the right to support 
Eicketts's battery." Captain J. B. Fry, of McDowell's 
staff, brought me the word and led the way to the 
right, well across Young's Branch to a hill not far 
from the Dogan house. In the little ravine north of 
this hill I formed my two brigade lines, the Second 
Vermont and Fourth Maine in the front, and the Third 
and Fifth Maine in the second line. When forming, I 
so stationed myself, mounted, that the men, marching 
by twos, should pass me. I closely observed them. 
Most were pale and thoughtful. Many looked up into 
my face and smiled. As soon as it was ready the first 
line swept up the slope, through a sprinkling of trees, 
out into an open space on high ground. The six guns 
of Ricketts's battery which had fought there were al- 
ready disabled or lost, and Captain Ricketts wounded 
and captured. One lieutenant, Douglas Ramsey, was 
killed. Another lieutenant, Edmund Kirby, covered 
with blood, on a wounded horse was hurrying along 


Battle of Bull Run 

saving a caisson. My first line passed him quickly, and 
as soon as the Second Vermont gained the crest of the 
hill, scattered hostile skirmishers being close ahead, 
the order to fire was given. The Fourth Maine, de- 
layed a little by the thicket, came up abreast of the 
Vermonters on the right and commenced firing. An 
enemy's battery toward our front and some musketry 
shots with no enemy plainly in sight caused the first 
annoyance. Soon another battery off to our right 
coming into position increased the danger. And, worse 
than the batteries, showers of musket balls from the 
wood, two hundred yards away, made warm work for 
new men ; but those unhit stood well for a time, or when 
disturbed by artillery shots, rallied till they had deliv- 
ered from fifteen to twenty rounds per man. We 
had found no battery to support but were thrust into 
an engagement against Confederate infantry and ar- 

After that first line had been formed and was hard 
at work, I returned through the thicket to the valley 
behind us and brought up the second line, composed of 
a remnant of the Fifth Maine and a larger portion of 
the Third, intending to give the first line a rest. A 
part of the Fifth, in consequence of a cannon shot strik- 
ing its flank and a rush of our own retreating cavalry, 
had been broken up and was gone. Our new line did 
not fully relieve the former; the Fourth Maine re- 
mained in position, the few of the Fifth going beyond 
the Fourth to the extreme right. The Second Vermont 
was ordered to withdraw and form a reserve. It was 
a hot place. Every hostile battery shot produced con- 
fusion, and as a rule our enemy could not be seen. 

Soon the breakages were beyond repair; my order 
for part of the front line to retire to reform was un- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

der stood for the whole. The major of the Fourth 
Maine asked anxiously : " Did you order us to re- 
treat? " I shook my head, so he tried to stop his men. 
The colonel of the Fifth, exhausted by an attack of 
illness, said that he could do no more. Many officers 
labored to keep their men together, but I saw could 
effect nothing under fire. At last I ordered all to 
fall back to the valley and reform behind the thicket. 
Our men at the start moving back slowly soon broke 
up their company formations and continued to retire, 
not at first in a panicky manner, but steadily, each ac- 
cording to his own sweet will. 

Before many minutes, however, it was evident that 
a panic had seized all the troops within sight. Some 
experienced veteran officers, like Heintzelman, en- 
treated and commanded their subordinates, by turns, 
to rally their men; but nothing could stop the drift 
and eddies of the masses that were faster and faster 
flowing toward the rear. A final Confederate fire just 
before this retreat came upon our right flank when 
on the hill. Near there were the bodies of Zouaves con- 
spicuous from their red uniform among the trees, who 
had fallen early in the day. That flank fire was from 
General E. Kirby Smith's Confederate brigade, which 
had come from the cars to that last battle scene, sup- 
jDorted on his right by General Early. Some of our 
men had glimpses of bright bayonets a few hundred 
yards away above the low bushes. In front of them 
rode one officer on a white horse. At first he seemed 
alone. He turned and gave a command, but at the in- 
stant was shot and fell to the ground, though his men 
came forward, firing as they came. This was probably 
General Smith, who fell near that place wounded. One 
cannon shot striking among our men hit Alonzo Stin- 


Battle of Bull Run 

son, of the Fifth Maine. His wound was mortal, his 
arm being broken and his side crushed. His brother, 
Harry, then a private, afterwards my aid-de-camp, 
who became a lieutenant colonel before the war closed, 
bravely stayed on the field with Lis brother and was 
taken prisoner by the advancing Confederates. 

Captain Heath, of the Third Maine, who, promoted 
subsequently to lieutenant colonel and fell in the battle 
of Gaines Mills, walked for some time by my horse and 
shed tears as he talked to me : " My men will not stay 
together. Colonel, they will not obey me," he said. 
Other brave officers pleaded and threatened. Sur- 
geons staying back pointed to their wounded and cried : 
"For God's sake, stop; don't leave us!" Nothing 
could at that time reach and influence the fleeing 
crowds except panicky cries like : " The enemy is upon 
us! We shall all be taken!" These cries gave in- 
crease to confusion and speed to flight. Curiously 
enough, instead of taking a short road to Centreville, 
the unreasoning multitude went back the long seven- 
mile route, exposing themselves every moment to 
death or capture. 

After the complete break-up, just before the re- 
crossing of Bull Run, Heintzelman, with his wounded 
arm in a sling, rode up and down and made a last ef- 
fort to restore order. He sharply reprimanded every 
officer he encountered. He swore at me. From time 
to time I renewed my attempts. My brother, C. H. 
Howard, if he saw me relax for a moment, sang out : 
"Oh, do try again!" Part of the Fourteenth New 
York from Brooklyn rallied north of Bull Run and 
were moving on in fine shape. " See them," said my 
brother; " let us try to form like that! " So we were 
trying, gathering a few, but in vain. One foolish crv 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

behind a team of horses thundering along the road 
was : " The black horse cavalry are upon us ! " This 
sent the Brooklyn men and all others in disorder into 
the neighboring woods. Then I stopped all efforts, but 
sent out this message and kept repeating it to every 
Maine and Vermont man within reach : " To the old 
camp at Centreville. Eally at the Centreville camp." 

No organization was effected before we reached 
that camp. There a good part of my brigade assem- 
bled and we remained in camp about one hour. Word 
was then brought me that our division and McDowell's 
entire army were retreating toward "Washington, cov- 
ered by Dixon Miles's fresh troops. 

It was some small satisfaction to me to reorganize 
and to march at the head of my brigade again in good 
order, even though it were in retreat. We halted at 
Fairfax Court House and lay on our arms till morn- 
ing. Following the universal example, I continued the 
march at daylight toward the Potomac. Four miles 
out, near Clermont, we were met by trains of cars and 
taken to Alexandria. 

The next day, by means of strong effort, on my own 
motion I led three regiments of my brigade back west- 
ward four miles along the Alexandria and Centreville 
Pike to a good position near Mrs. Scott's farm. The 
other regiment, the Fifth Maine, having lost all of its 
blankets and being destitute of other needed supplies, 
I left temporarily in Alexandria. At last that was 
supplied and rejoined its brigade. The brigade there- 
after faithfully guarded the approaches to Alexandria 
through many sore and dark days of discouragement, 
privation, and sickness, till McClellan, finally begin- 
ning to rebrigade and reorganize the army, ordered us 
to retire to a position nearer the Potomac. 


Battle of Bull Run 

At the battle of Bull Eun heavy losses were inflicted 
in the brief time we were able to hold our ground — 50 
killed, 115 wounded, and 180 missing. We had among 
them two officers killed and seven wounded — total loss, 
345. Smith's (or Elzey's) Confederate loss was 28 
killed and 108 wounded; Early's, 24 killed and 122 
wounded. Total killed and wounded in both brigades, 

McDowell's entire Union loss was 481 officers and 
men killed, 1,011 wounded, and 1,216 missing. Beaure- 
gard's and Johnston's entire Confederate loss was 307 
killed, 1,582 wounded, and 13 missing. 

It was at least two weeks after our Bull Run panic 
before much reliance could be placed on our troops. In 
Alexandria the second night we put the men under 
shelter in the empty houses. A dreadful rainstorm 
had set in after the battle. The rain poured down in 
torrents and flooded the roads and the streets of the 

And now came the most trying period of the war 
to all patriotic hearts. The terrible discontent day 
by day was aggravated and continued among the men. 
They distrusted their officers, high and low, many of 
them pleaded to go home, some mutinied, some de- 
serted, some worthless officers only encouraged the 
malcontents, while others feared them. Letters com- 
plaining of ill usage filled the mails; the supplies for 
a time were short; spoiled clothing could not be im- 
mediately replaced ; blankets and equipments were not 
forthcoming to fill the want ; food was scarce and often 
poor, bread being moldy and meat insufficient. Coun- 
ter complaints attended with bitter charges came to 
us from the homes far away. The military authority 
was insufficient speedily to rectify all these evils. Offi- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

cers and men raslied into Washington and thronged 
the hotels, boarding houses, and public offices with a 
saucy, idle, vagabond crowd. In many regiments even 
the arms were abused or allowed to become unservice- 
able from rust. But little by little the quartermaster 
general — the worthy, diligent, and able General Meigs 
— arranged to so supply every want in clothing and 
tentage as soon to relieve every cause of grumbling, 
and in like manner the commissary general, George 
Gibson, before long gave us plenty of new bread and 
fresh meat, so that the men became more contented and 
hopeful. And commanders in the field took the utmost 
pains to reestablish and maintain discipline. 

Congress voted 500,000 more men to help us, and 
McClellan, conspicuous, with the reputation of success- 
ful generalship in West Virginia, was speedily called 
to the command of the departments of Washington and 
of Northeastern Virginia. 

I heard General Sherman once say when he had 
listened to a severe criticism of Patterson, McDowell, 
and other early leaders, that we must not be too criti- 
cal and hard upon them, for we were green in those 
days and we all have to learn by experience. We were 
then taught many lessons — the indispensable need of 
organization, of proper commanders, drill, and disci- 
pline; how little things like waiting or overhaste in 
marching or unloading the men certainly forestall de- 
feat ; how essential it is somehow to keep the men who 
fight in confidence and in heart ; how and when to bring 
up the supports and reserves and use them to the best 

One thing which affected us much was the saying 
so often heard that day : " It is Sunday ! The attack- 
ing party on the Sabbath is sure of defeat ! " Whether 


Battle of Bull Run 

this be the superstition or the religion of a people, wise 
men will respect it. To violate the Sabbath weakens 
the soldiers who come from our churches and Sunday 
schools. With what a beautiful spirit General McClel- 
lan subsequently met this religious feeling in a superb 
order soon after issued: "The major general com- 
manding desires and requests that in future there may 
be a more perfect respect for the Sabbath on the part 
of his command. We are fighting in a holy cause and 
shall endeavor to deserve the benign favor of the Crea- 
tor. One day's rest in seven is necessary to men and 
animals. More than this, the observance of the holy 
day of the God of mercy and of battles is our sacred 




ON July 25th Major General George B. McClellan 
took command of the combined departments 
of Washington and Northeastern Virginia, and No- 
vember 1st succeeded the venerable General Winfield 
Scott as the commander of all the armies of the United 
States. McClellan' s name became familiar to every 
household in the land. In addition to his active, high 
command and an exalted rank his name was made still 
more conspicuous in that he stood as a candidate for 
the Presidency in 1864. 

Indeed, McClellan holds no small place in the his- 
tory of his country. The story of the Peninsular Cam- 
paign of 1862 could not be told without making him 
the central figure from the organization of the Army 
of the Potomac till the sad withdrawal of its forces 
after the bloody battle of Malvern Hill. 

My first sight of McClellan was in 1850, when I was 
a cadet at "West Point. He had then but recently re- 
turned from Mexico, where he had gained two brevets 
of honor. He was popular and handsome and a cap- 
tain of engineers, and if there was one commissioned 
officer more than another who had universal notice 
among the young gentlemen of the academy it was he, 
himself a young man, a staff officer of a scientific turn 
who had been in several battles and had played every- 


General George B. McClellan 

where a distinguislied part. Eleven years later, after 
his arrival in Washington, July 23, 1861, an occasion 
brought me, while standing amid a vast multitude of 
other observers, a fresh glimpse of McClellan. He was 
now a major general and fittingly mounted. His record, 
from a brilliant campaign in West Virginia, and the 
urgent demand of the Administration for the ablest 
military man to lift us up from the valley of our exist- 
ing humiliation, instantly brought this officer to the 
knowledge and scrutiny of the Government and the 

As he rode past me that day with his proud staff, 
many of whom I recognized, his person and bearing 
made an indelible impression upon my memory. I saw 
a man five feet eight in height, with a good figure, mus- 
cular and closely knit, square shoulders, shapely head, 
and fine face ruddy with health ; he had withal a quiet 
and reserved manner and showed vigor in his motions. 

I partook of the common enthusiasm and hope, and 
my heart, if not my lips, joined the loud acclaim which 
that day saluted his deportment. Though McClellan 
never drew me to him, his intimacies being with those 
nearer his academic graduation, I have uniformly 
cherished the belief that he was a pure man, loyal to 
truth, to honor, and to his country. 

A month later I again saw McClellan near the 
troops that I was commanding. He spoke to me briefly 
as he finished his visit, and won me, as he did other 
junior commanders, by his cordial manner. 

His popularity, which had come almost of itself, 
was thus deepened and made permanent throughout 
the army by his showing on all occasions a marked 
courtesy. A general who has gained the hearts of his 
soldiers has only to plan well and execute well to bring 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

abundant success, but there is one drawback — his op- 
ponent may be equally well equijDped in heart, plan, 
and purjDOse. 

The first thing to be done by McClellan, on the heels 
of Bull Run, was to make an army. Our Congress had 
authorized the call for 500,000 more volunteers. It im- 
mediately fell to McClellan to receive, organize, equip, 
drill, and discipline the new levies which were flocking 
into Washington from the north and west, and prepare 
them for the field. 

The Washington mobs still existed and were grow- 
ing worse. They were made up largely from discon- 
tented regiments contributing to the disorderly mass, 
tenfold larger after the panic of Bull Run. 

McClellan instituted three remedial measures: 
First, an order from the War Department, which or- 
ganized boards of examination. Volunteer officers 
were to be brought before them to ascertain their fit- 
ness for the command they exercised. General Henry 
W. Slocum and I were for some time on one of these 
boards. Slocum at first demurred. He thought it hard 
for prominent citizens recently commissioned who had 
generously spent their time and money to raise regi- 
ments not to be permitted to reap some benefit for 
their labor and sacrifice. It did seem a little cruel to 
examine them in army regulations and tactics! But 
the orders required that, and so we fell to work and 
had one officer after another brought before us. It 
proved a good move. While a few worthy men not 
sufficiently acquainted with their new business were 
sent home, a host of idlers and triflers were dismissed 
or compelled to resign. 

The second, and a most important measure, was a 
thorough system of inspection of men and arms, carry- 


General George B. McClellan 

ing it through relentlessly. I suffered from this, for 
while in command of the brigade I left the care of the 
Third Maine to the regimental commander and was 
severely condemned for the condition of the arms of 
" his own regiment " by an inspecting officer from 
army headquarters. 

The third measure of relief was the inauguration of 
an effective provost marshal's department. General 
Andrew Porter set his machinery in motion and in a 
remarkably short time cleared the streets of Wash- 
ington and Georgetown of all the vagrant soldiery who 
had daily congregated in those cities but had no proper 
business there. He issued not only a permit system, 
but so revised and controlled the passports across our 
lines as, at least for a time, to cause murmurers and 
traitors to fly from the District of Columbia or keep 
still. McClellan also made another wholesome regu- 
lation. He iDlaced near Washington in provisional bri- 
gades the bulk of the newer regiments, keeping them 
there in camps under special discipline and drill before 
sending them to the front. The people behind us were 
always in haste, and the administration felt their quick 
pulsation; not so McClellan, Nobody ever saw him in 

Not long after Bull Eun the brigades were broken 
up and mine with the rest, so with some disappoint- 
ment I returned to my regiment and was encamped 
near Arlington engaged in furnishing working parties 
for the construction of the fortifications about Wash- 
ington. Here I was under General Sedgwick. No one 
of his command will forget his quiet, watchful disci- 
pline and his fatherly management. An unexpected 
visit on August 8th from McDowell escorting Prince 
Jerome Napoleon through our camps had a cheering 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

feature for me. Just before the general with his cav- 
alcade rode away he turned to me and spoke of the 
orders of McCIellan which had dissolved my brigade. 
He said : " Colonel Howard, that action is not final ; 
you shall not suffer nor lose your brigade." The re- 
mark had its fruition on September 3, 1861, when I re- 
ceived my commission of brigadier general of volun- 
teers. For several weeks thereafter I had, however, 
that unhappy experience of waiting for orders. Rest- 
less, talking with my adjutant, walking to and fro, 
reading the i^apers, conning over some books, and 
going over the regulations, or at orderly hours sitting 
in the anteroom of General Marcy, father-in-law and 
chief of staff to McCIellan — the newly fledged briga- 
dier feared that he never would be recognized again or 
trusted with a command. I suspected jealousy on the 
part of rivals who were near the throne. I was 
ashamed to go home and chagrined to remain un- 

But the change came. My first assignment was to 
another brigade, receiving, drilling, and forwarding 
new regiments under the supervision of General Silas 
Casey. We were sent to Bladensburg and encamped 
near the notorious dueling ground where members of 
Congress had formerly resorted to offer their blood 
for their honor's sake. The Sixty-first New York, 
Fifth New Hampshire, the Forty-fifth New York, the 
Eighty-first Pennsylvania, and Fourth Rhode Island 
took part under my command in one great review held 
on the public grounds east of the Capitol. McCIellan 
was the conspicuous reviewing officer and Casey led 
the division. At first some slight mistakes very much 
disturbed our silver-haired division commander. He 
cried out despairingly : " Oh, oh, what a fizzle ! " Still, 


Olivek 0. Howard, Brigadier General United States Volunteers, 1861, 
WITH His Adjutant General, Frederick D. Sewall. 

General George B. McClellan 

a little extra effort on the part of our active aids-de- 
camp put all matters to rights and we passed in a cred- 
itable review. 

How necessary was that period of preparation to 
the new army ! McClellan brought to bear upon it the 
conservatism of an engineer. He gathered around him 
a large staff, personal and administrative, which from 
time to time he caused to be announced to the army. 
Gradually he constructed, with immense labor, on both 
sides of the Potomac, a grand system of fortifications 
which environed the District of Columbia. They soon 
gave to the eye of every observer, military or not, the 
precise rallying points for times of attack; they were 
when manned a safe defense of the nation's capital. 

The capital thus owed to McClellan not a little of 
its safety in his cleansing it of idlers and of traitors, 
in his strong army, and in his well-chosen and thor- 
oughly constructed defenses. 

The batteries of artillery and the infantry regi- 
ments, as soon as they emerged from the provisional 
state, were stationed around the new forts wherever 
convenient camping places could be found, at first un- 
der canvas alone; but when cold weather approached 
the men made themselves comfortable huts of logs, 
using their tentage for securing height and roofing. 
What veteran will ever forget the white-topped vil- 
lages on every hill, patriotic and gay under their own 
flags, which seemed in perpetual motion*? Together 
they formed a city of over 100,000 souls. The larger 
proportion constituting the main body was on the Vir- 
ginia side of the Potomac, but no other fronts were 
neglected ; for example, as we have seen, Casey's divi- 
sion looking to the east was on the Bladensburg road ; 
Hooker's facing the south was kept below the eastern 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

branch ; while Wadsworth's, north and east, scattered 
here and there, crowned a score of important heights. 
Some of the forts were named for distinguished officers 
who had already fallen in the war, like Lyon and 

McClellan's purpose in dela} the corps forma- 
tion is indicated in a single sentence : " I did not de- 
sire to form them until the army had been for some lit- 
tle time in the field, in order to enable the general offi- 
cers first to acquire the requisite experience as division 
commanders on active service, and that I might be able 
to decide from actual trial who were the best fitted to 
exercise these important commands." This care and 
deliberation were characteristic. 

It was not till March, 1862, that the corps forma- 
tion was introduced, and then the President himself 
initiated it by his own orders. 

The division commanders whose names, thanks to 
Bull Run and sundry reviews, had become familiar to 
the army were advanced in position but not in grade — 
our highest grade, except by special Act of Congress, 
was that of major general. McDowell, Sumner, Heint- 
zelman, Keyes, and Banks were the first five army 
corps commanders. A few days later Banks's command 
was ditf erently designated and a fifth corps was given 
to Fitz John Porter, a sixth to Franklin. 

McDowell had for division commanders at first 
Franklin, McCall, and King; Sumner — Richardson, 
Sedgwick, and Blenker. Heintzelman's division com- 
manders were Fitz John Porter, Hooker, and Hamil- 
ton; Keyes's were Couch, W. F. Smith, and Casey; 
and Banks's, Williams and Shields. 

But I am anticipating the order of events. Possi- 
bly the Army of the Potomac thus formed and located 


General George B. McClellan 

might have remained sheltered along the Virginia 
Heights free from trials by combat or battle during 
the important time of incubation and growth had it 
not been for the Confederates. General Johnston at 
Centreville, Va., though disposed himself to stand 
mainly on the defensive, still had a teasing way of let- 
ting loose certain of his restless subordinates, such as 
Ashby, Stuart, Barksdale, and Evans. 

While, during the fall of 1861, 1 was working away 
as a sort of school general at Bladensburg and vicinity 
and serving on those depleting boards and on several 
tedious courts-martial, there were several collisions 
which the enemy provoked or our troops brought on 
by foraging movements. For example, Stuart, my 
classmate, made his way to Loudon County, Va., 
about August 1st, and pushed out detachments here 
and there in the rudest way; one showed itself near 
" The Point of Eocks," south of the Potomac, just 
below Harper's Ferry, which was then but poorly gar- 
risoned. A part of the Twenty-eighth New York, un- 
der Captain W. W. Bush, by a ford near at hand boldly 
crossed to the Virginia shore, where a lively skirmish 
ensued. Bush drove off the Confederate cavalry, in- 
flicted a small loss in killed and wounded, captured 
twenty horses and came back with a number of pris- 

At one period near the middle of October the daily 
journals were full of " Munson's Hill." That promi- 
nence could be seen by observers looking westward 
from Arlington Heights and from other points about 
Washington. The Confederates had occupied this fa- 
mous ground between the two armies and kept flying 
from the hilltop their new banner so unwelcome to 
Union gazers. Eeference to this audacious flag pointed 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the speech of many a brave orator that fall while criti- 
cising the slowness of McClellan. Munson's Hill 
armed the " On-to-Eichmond " press with pithy para- 
graphs. But suddenly and unexpectedly the Confed- 
erates withdrew from Munson's Hill and our cavalry 
pickets found there only mock intrenchments and 
" Quaker guns " — i. e., logs cut and daubed with black 
paint to imitate cannon. The natural query was: 
" What will our enemy do next 1 " To ascertain this, 
reconnoissances were undertaken. 

The divisions of McCall and W. F. Smith marched 
out westward on October 19th. McCall, farthest 
south, bearing off northwesterly, passed through the 
village of Dranesville, and finding no enemy kept on 
five or six miles beyond toward Leesburg. He delayed 
his return march from time to time to enable his staff 
to gather local knowledge and make sketches of the 
country. A telegram to McClellan from Darnestown 
the next morning said : " The signal station on ' Sugar 
Loaf telegraphs that the enemy have moved away 
from Leesburg." Upon receiving this message Mc- 
Clellan caused to be telegraphed to General Stone, at 
Poolesville, Md. (upper Potomac) : " General McCall 
occupied Dranesville yesterday and is still there ; will 
send out heavy reconnoissances to-day in all directions 
from that point. . . . Keep a good lookout upon Lees- 
burg to see if this movement has the effect to drive 
them away. Perhaps a slight demonstration on your 
part would have the effect to move them." 

This simple telegram was the primary cause of the 
battle of Ball's Bluff — and the death of Colonel Baker. 

Being in the District of Columbia at the time of the 
Ball's Bluff disaster, I realized how deeply people 
there were affected by it. The President had known 


General George B. McClellan 

Baker well, for he had but recently, under patriotic 
impulse, gone from the Senate Chamber to the field. 
President, Congress, and people felt bereaved by his 
death. When the colonel's body arrived in Washing- 
ton, I became one of the pallbearers. 

Baker, though acting as a brigadier general, was 
the colonel of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania. Rev. 
Byron Sunderland, a Presbyterian pastor, preached 
his funeral sermon. Baker's brother and son were 
present. One of his officers fell in a swoon during the 
exercises. To the cemetery, a distance of three miles, 
I rode with General Denver, of California. Senator 
Henry Wilson was one of the pallbearers; this occa- 
sion afforded me my first introduction to him. An im- 
mense unsympathetic crowd followed to see the mili- 
tary procession. Nobody evinced sorrow — very few 
even raised their hats as we passed. 

The Washington crowd, however, was no sample 
of our patriotic citizens. The passions, appetites, and 
sins of the great small men who had run the Govern- 
ment upon the rocks had left their impress on Wash- 
ington, and the military had called in its train its usual 
motley brood of followers — such was the mixed multi- 
tude which followed the noble and generous Baker 
without emotion to his tomb. The wail in Massachu- 
setts and Pennsylvania over the excessive and boot- 
less losses at Ball's Bluff followed. To Senator Wil- 
son and myself that funeral was deeply saddening. 
The evening shadows were thickening as we placed 
Baker in his last resting place. 

Had General Stone's plans leading to this battle 
succeeded, he would have been praised for his energy 
and enterprise. The arrest and punishment which he 
underwent on account of his defeat, without having a 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

chance for a proper trial and without an opportunity 
to recover the confidence of the army, afford an ex- 
traordinary episode of injustice shown a good and able 

At our homes the people were becoming vexed and 
impatient to have the war work so slow. While the 
bulk of the secession multitude were already in the 
war the majority of Union men were not yet at 
the front and a sort of apathy pervaded the armies 
in the field. I verily believed that they would not 
shake it off till their communications had been cut and 
the life of the defending hosts put in imminent peril. 
I wrote : " We have the numbers in the field, but the 
spirit with enthusiasm is at home. We want it here. 
God will help us when we stop self-seeking and money- 
making. When the pressure of want and deep sorrow 
is upon us, then will we turn to the Lord and cry unto 
Him; then will we grasp the means and go forth in 
His strength." This was my feeling in the presence of 
selfish and disloyal Washington talk and under the 
shadow of the Ball's Bluff calamity. 

Ball's Bluff was the last affair in our vicinity of 
any considerable importance during that period of for- 
mation. But the delay and waiting were so long that 
not only our loyal friends became suspicious that 
something was wrong at headquarters, but the disloy- 
alty in the neighborhood of the armies and, in fact, 
everywhere, became bold and vexatious. 

Mr. Lincoln wanted something done on the lower 
Potomac or against Johnston's communications, but 
touching all plans for movement he still deferred to 
the judgment and respected the reticence of his popu- 
lar army commander. 

An affair at last came that relieved the monotony 


General George B. McClellan 

of my own life and made me feel as if I was accom- 
plishing something. As the November elections ap- 
proached, certain hot-headed secessionists of Mary- 
land were working hard to carry the State. Violent 
men began to intimidate the more quiet Union voters, 
and in the lower counties Confederate soldiers were 
crossing the Potomac in uniform to influence the polls. 
This gave to my troops for that month of November 
a " political campaign." 

The 3d of the month, Saturday, receiving word 
from General Casey, I rode to Washington in a heavy 
and continuous rain and went to his headquarters. He 
instructed me to march my brigade forthwith to the 
southern part of Maryland, placing troops in Prince 
George and Calvert counties. For further specific in- 
structions Casey sent me to General Marcy, McClel- 
lan's chief of staff. I was told that after my arrival 
in lower Maryland I must consult with Union men, co- 
operate with them, and do all in my power to prevent 
any obstruction of the polls. As it was very stormy I 
secured for personal use some waterproof clothing 
and returned to Bladensburg to hasten our prepara- 
tion. By Sunday morning the weather had cleared but 
the eastern branch which flowed between our camp and 
Bladensburg had risen so much that it was over fifty 
yards across, and the ford, usually shallow, was deep. 

When with my staff I undertook to cross, our 
horses lost their footing and had to swim, and all of 
the riders received more or less of a wetting. By 
planking the ties of the railroad bridge we quickly had 
a dry crossing for the men, but a squadron of cavalry 
sent me for the expedition and the supply wagons were 
obliged to worry through the ford ; we had special con- 
trivances to raise our ammunition and hard bread 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

above the water.^ Our Sunday march, muddy and dif- 
ficult, was fourteen miles and we bivouacked in a grove 
at Centreville, Md. The troops, new to marching, were 
weary enough to sleep. Some of them, however, be- 
fore morning had wakened and made havoc of a 
widow's fence. I put an officer of the Fourth Ehode 
Island, who was on guard, under arrest and obtained 
from the officers whose men had helped themselves to 
rails a sufficient contribution to pay the widow for her 
loss. There was no more burning of fences on that 
expedition, but there was murmuring at my severity. 
I sent companies on Monday to Upper Marlboro, to 
Nottingham, Queen Anne, and Piscataway. Upper 
Marlboro we found a very pretty village three miles 
from the Patuxent Eiver, having a courthouse, tav- 
erns, and churches. Here were several secessionists 
who were giving much trouble, but finding there also 
several excellent Union men I left Colonel Miller to 
aid them in keeping the peace. With my cavalry 
squadron I marched on to the Patuxent, the bridge 
across which had been carried away by the freshet. In 
two hours the bridge was made passable and we 
crossed over, completing our projected expedition at 
dark, and camping upon the large and beautiful estate 
of Mr. Thomas J. Graham. His generous hospitality 
could not have been excelled. Neither my officers nor 
myself ever forgot the joyous welcome and kind treat- 
ment from host and hostess, for Mrs. Graham joined 
her husband in the entertainment. My surgeon. Dr. 
Palmer, Adjutant General Sewall, and I remained with 
these good people for three days. It gave us a breath 
of home. I had managed so promptly to distribute my 

1 The " contrivances " were cross-planks placed above the wagon-beds 
and also deep empty boxes. 


General George B. McClellan 

troops that there was not a voting precinct in Prince 
George or Calvert counties that was not occupied by 
my men on Wednesday, the day of election. On Thurs- 
day the scattered detachments were gathered, and on 
Friday and Saturday marched back to their respective 
camping grounds near Washington. 

We had made some arrests. Mr. Sellers, at Prince 
Frederick, a former congressman, showed a violent 
disposition, threatening to kill any Union man he could 
reach and striking right and left with a bowie knife. 
He and four others were put under guard. On Friday 
morning Mr. Sellers was very ill, but as his exces- 
sive excitement was over I took his promise to report 
at Washington and released him. The others I let go 
upon their taking the oath of allegiance. Only one 
Confederate soldier in uniform was picked up ; he was 
kept for exchange. General Casey's happy approval, 
commending my brigade and myself for our faithful- 
ness and promptitude, gave me much pleasure, and 
McClellan's recognition of the work so quickly done, 
which owing to the storm he had thought hardly pos- 
sible, awakened a strong hope that I would soon go 
to the front, taking with me instead of sending the regi- 
ments I had last drilled. That crossing of swollen 
streams, making long marches through clayey mud, 
bivouacking without canvas, disciplining the men on 
friendly soil, and giving officers something of impor- 
tance to do, were, indeed, conducive to their content- 
ment, to useful experience together, to comradeship, 
and in brief to all the needed preparations for grander 
trials in the coming events which were most consonant 
to our hearts. 




THE first time that General E. V. Sumner's name 
made any considerable impression upon me was 
in connection with our new President's quick and se- 
cret journey from Harrisburg to Washington just 
before his first inauguration. There was for the time 
great excitement on the subject. Mr. Lincoln had left 
his home in Illinois on February 11, 1861. He experi- 
enced nothing harmful — only an ovation all the way. 
The people at halting places thronged to see him and 
insisted on speeches from him. He passed from Phila- 
delphia to Harrisburg on February 22d, and ad- 
dressed the Legislature there assembled. Being weary 
after his continued receptions, speeches, and excite- 
ment, he went to the Jones house and retired to his 
apartments for needed rest. It was given out publicly 
that he would not leave Harrisburg till the next morn- 
ing, but Mr. W. F. Seward, son of William H. Seward, 
suddenly arrived from Washington and promptly con- 
veyed to Mr. Lincoln the startling information from 
Senator Seward and General Scott, that he was to be 
assassinated in Baltimore while en route to Washing- 
ton. The story, which from subsequent testimony, 
positive and direct, was fully substantiated, was at the 
time hardly credited by Mr. Lincoln himself, yet there 
appeared to most of his advisers who were present 


General E. V. Sumner and My First Reconnoissance 

such imminent danger and such vast interests at stake 
that his friends became importunate, urging him to 
start at once so as to pass through Baltimore many 
hours before the advertised time. He took this course, 
but with evident reluctance. 

At that time Colonel E. V. Sumner and Major Da- 
vid Hunter were among Mr. Lincoln's many reliable 
friends — a sort of voluntary escort. Sumner pro- 
tested. He was vehement. " What ! the President 
elect of the United States make a secret and strategic 
approach to his own capital? Shall he skulk in such 
a manner as that proposed? No! Let an army, with 
artillery to sound his salvos, escort him publicly 
through the rebel throng ! " This incident indicates 
the indomitable spirit of Sumner, always exhibited 
from the time of his entry into the United States serv- 
ice as a lieutenant at twenty-three years of age in 1819, 
till his death at Syracuse, N. Y., in 1863. The old 
army was replete with anecdotes illustrating his indi- 
viduality. He was remarkable for two military vir- 
tues : an exact obedience to orders and a rigid enforce- 
ment of discipline. If two methods were presented, 
one direct and the other indirect, he always chose the 
direct; if two courses opened, the one doubtful and 
leading to safety, the other dangerous and heroic, he 
was sure to choose the heroic at whatever cost. Jo- 
seph E. Johnston when a subordinate was once under 
Sumner's command. Johnston, with other officers, was 
required to attend reveille every morning. On one oc- 
casion he had some slight indisposition which the early 
rising aggravated, so he asked Surgeon Cuyler to ex- 
cuse him from that exercise. Sumner interposed at 
once : " He must then go wholly on the sick report." 
Once again, at a frontier garrison which Sumner com- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

manded, he himself had a severe attack of indigestion, 
caused from drinking some alkaline water that he could 
not avoid. He was much weakened, and the officers, 
sure of what students would call " an absence " at the 
next reveille, congratulated each other upon the antici- 
pated rest to be had without discovery and punish- 
ment. But lo ! Sumner next morning was in his place, 
the first man on the ground ! 

At the time of Colonel Sumner's early intimacy 
with President Lincoln, he was colonel of the First 
regular cavalry. He had gained distinction in the 
Mexican War and had obtained therefore the reward 
of two brevets. He had, however, been obliged before 
the war for the Union to play a part in Kansas not 
to his liking : for his orders had required him to dis- 
perse the free-state legislature. Still, whatever were 
his private sympathies or political sentiments, he did 
not hesitate to obey. It was then a compensative sat- 
isfaction to be sent under the new administration with 
which he was in accord to command the Department of 
California. General Twiggs's defection and dismissal 
gave Sumner a brigadiership. His California work 
was made remarkable by his rallying the Union ele- 
ment and frightening disunionists. Prominent seces- 
sionists he caused to be arrested; and some to be ap- 
prehended outside of California while they were en 
route via Panama toward the Gulf States. Such was 
the war-worn, loyal Sumner who arrived in Washing- 
ton the last of November, 1861. McClellan immediately 
assigned him to duty, expecting just then some active 
campaigning. Sumner was to choose his division from 
the provisional forces. He naturally advised with 
Casey, the commander of all the provisional organiza- 
tions. It was my good fortune to have won General 


General E. V. Sumner and My First Reconnolssance 

Casey's favorable opinion. He commended me for in- 
dustry and energy. Those were the qualities for Sum- 
ner: he selected my brigade, French's, and later that 
of Thomas Francis Meagher. 

I was delighted at the change, for I did not like the 
rear, however important the work might be, and none 
probably was more important than the preparing of 
regiment after regiment for service. One cannot al- 
ways fathom or reveal his motives, but I know that I 
was eager for the advance and greatly enjoyed the 
prospect of serving under the redoubtable Sumner. I 
was ordered to report in writing to my new division 
commander. This I did. Sumner's first order to me 
was characteristic. He looked over the large map 
which embodied the position of the Army of the Po- 
tomac from Harper's Ferry to Aquia Creek, and 
stretched forward to take in the supposed position of 
the entire Confederate army in our front. He saw a 
place called Springfield out a few miles in front of Al- 
exandria, on the Orange and Alexandria railroad. 
That being on the portion of the front he was to oc- 
cupy, he at once sent my brigade there. This was too 
bold an order for our then defensive methods. It 
might stir up a hornet's nest. But feeling the exhilara- 
tion of a new enterprise, I pushed out promptly to 
comply with my instructions. I had reached the place 
— a mere railway station with no houses near — with 
two regiments and was quietly waiting for the other 
two of the brigade and for the baggage train, when 
Lieutenant Sam S. Sumner, a son and aid of the gen- 
eral, rode up in apparent haste and said : " The general 
made a mistake ; it is not intended by his orders that 
we should push out so far." Empty cars quickly ap- 
peared to take us back to Alexandria. Sumner had 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

halted my wagon train there and caused it to wait 
while the remainder of my brigade encamped on the 
Leesburg Turnpike. On our arrival I housed for the 
night the men with me in the sheds and engine houses 
of the Alexandria railway depot. Sumner was in some 
house outside of the city. It was already evening. 
Taking two colonels with me, I made my way to the 
old city hotel. After supper I set out with one of them 
in the darkness and rainstorm to find General Sumner. 
We had hired a single team, but the horse was so 
broken down that he could scarcely walk. He soon ran 
into a post and fell, breaking his harness and rolling 
the carriage, the colonel, and myself into the mud! 

Our search after several trials being unsuccessful, 
we postponed further effort till daylight, then we 
found the general at a farmhouse far out on the Lees- 
burg Pike. This was my first meeting with the veteran 
commander. He had on a dark-blue blouse and light- 
blue uniform trousers and wore a rough flannel shirt. 
Shoulder straps with the star on each shoulder marked 
his rank of brigadier general, while a bright cravat 
beneath his rolling shirt collar relieved the monotony 
of his dress. 

As he stood there before me, a tall, spare, muscular 
frame, I beheld a firm, dignified man ; but his eye was 
so kindly and his smile so attractive that all embar- 
rassment between us was banished at the first inter- 
view. After breakfast the general took me with him to 
select a proper position for his division. My brigade, 
the First, as I was the ranking brigade commander, 
was placed on the right north of the Pike, French's 
on the south, and Meagher's back toward the city. My 
camp was on Mr. Richards's farm. A charming grove 
of trees was behind the brigade, to the south of which 


General E. V» Sumner and My First Reconnoissance 

were established my headquarters. The land had a 
light soil, was rolling, and easily drained. Back of us, 
farther off in plain sight, on a height was the well- 
known Fairfax Seminary. 

Sumner, in honor of the Pacific Department which 
he had so recently left, called his new field home and 
environment "Camp California." More than ten thou- 
sand souls there formed a city and spent three months 
encamped in military order. French's was slightly in 
echelon with my brigade and arranged back and south 
of a house of Mr. Watkins, while Sumner himself oc- 
cupied a Sibley tent near the house. Meagher's men 
were held some distance to the rear and opposite the 
center. Sumner had also near at hand the Eighth Illi- 
nois Cavalry and a six-gun battery of light artillery. 
We habitually kept one infantry regiment and a small 
detachment of cavalry on picket duty as far forward 
as Edsall's Hill, and kept the remainder at drill. Who 
of my brigade does not recall those lively trials over 
the sand knolls, too often through snow and mud, those 
skirmishes and passing the defiles so remorselessly 

Mr. Eicliards, the householder, lived about two hun- 
dred yards in front of our right. He was afflicted with 
asthma — a trouble that usually increased under provo- 
cation. He would wheeze, laugh, cry, and stammer, 
as he good-naturedly tried to describe to me the work 
of the New Hampshire axmen while cutting down his 
beautiful and extensive grove. It was not long before 
his entire wood had been felled and carried off to 
block up and underpin the canvas tents or to be stored 
up somewhere for fuel. 

" Why, general, ha ! ha ! " he wheezed, " the trees 
just lie down, ha ! ha ! ha ! as Colonel Cross's folks look 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

at 'em!" And, indeed, those New Hampshire men 
were expert woodmen. 

Notwithstanding the burden of war there was much 
that was jjleasant in our camp that winter. Friends 
visited friends; the Germans had their holidays and 
rifle shootings; the Irish brigade their hurdle races 
and their lively hosj^italities. An enormous mail went 
out and came in daily. But there was a sad side. At 
times our hospitals were crowded with patients, be- 
cause measles followed by typhoid fever, in virulence 
like the plagues of Egypt, ran through all McClellan's 
army and decimated our regiments. 

Off and on for information we probed the spaces 
between our own and the enemy's lines, sometimes to 
catch spies and those who harbored them, and some- 
times daringly to gather forage and provisions, but, 
indeed, we wished to be doing something in the line of 
enterprise as a preparation for the active work to 
which we all looked forward expectantly for the 
spring. Our bold, strict, straightforward, hospitable 
division general and his son and aid, Lieutenant S. S. 
Sumner, who combined his father's frankness, brav- 
ery, and impulse, and his mother's social amenities, 
with the gifted and genial adjutant general. Major J. 
H. Taylor, and Lieutenant Lawrence Kip, an aid well 
practiced in the ways of polite society, always wel- 
comed us to headquarters, pleasant to visit and worthy 
to imitate. 

General W. H. French, who commanded the next 
brigade, the Second, was a man advanced in years, who 
had graduated at West Point seventeen years before 
me. He had a mind of unusual quickness, well replen- 
ished by a long experience in his profession. French 
somehow was able to take more men into action and 


General E. V. Sumner and My First Reconnoissance 

have less stragglers than any of his parallel com- 

Among our colonels were Zook, who was killed at 
Gettysburg ; Brooke, who, steadily advancing, attained 
the rank of major general in the regular army; Bar- 
low, of the Sixty-first New York, who, by wounds re- 
ceived in several engagements went again and again to 
death's door but lived through a most distinguished 
career of work and promotion to exercise eminent civil 
functions after the war, and Miller, who fell in our first 
great battle. 

My brother. Lieutenant C. H. Howard, and Lieu- 
tenant Nelson A. Miles were then my aids. Sumner, 
noticing his conduct in action, used to say of Miles: 
" That officer will get promoted or get killed." F. D. 
Sewall, for many months my industrious adjutant gen- 
eral, took the colonelcy of the Nineteenth Maine, and 
my able judge advocate, E. Whittlesey, at last accepted 
the colonelcy of another regiment. The acting bri- 
gade commissary, George W. Balloch, then a lieuten- 
ant in the Fifth New Hampshire, adhered to his staff 
department and was a colonel and chief commissary 
of a corps before the conflict ended. 

To comprehend McClellan's responsibility and ac- 
tion after he came to Washington, we must call to mind 
the fact that he did not simply command the Army of 
the Potomac, which he had succeeded in organizing 
out of the chaos and confusion of the Bull Eun panic, 
but till March 11, 1862, he had his eye upon the whole 
field of operations and was endeavoring to direct all 
our armies which were face to face with the insur- 
gents. It never appeared fair to McClellan to bind 
him by stringent orders and then at last demand that 
he follow a changing public sentiment. It is like re- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

moving by fire process the temper from steel and then 
expecting from it the old elasticity. 

In a letter dated November 7, 1861, McClellan indi- 
cates the will of the Executive at that time : " I know 
that I express the feelings and opinions of the Presi- 
dent when I say that we are fighting only to preserve 
the integrity of the Union and the constitutional au- 
thority of the general Government." 

We perceive at once from the following note to 
Buell the inference which came to McClellan from the 
President's known attitude — an inference doubtless 
strengthened by his own conservative feelings and con- 
victions : " The military problem would be a simple one 
if it could be separated from political influences. Such 
is not the case. Were the population among which you 
are to operate wholly or generally hostile, it is proba- 
ble that Nashville would be your first and principal 
objective point. It so happens that a large majority 
of the people of Eastern Tennessee are in favor of the 
Union." For this reason Buell was made to stand on 
the defensive all along the line toward Nashville, and 
directed to throw the mass of his forces into Eastern 
Tennessee by way of Walker's and Cumberland gaps, 
if possible reaching Knoxville. This was to enable 
the loyal to rise, a thing Mr. Lincoln greatly desired, 
and to break up all rail communications between East- 
ern Virginia and the Mississippi. 

Another letter of November 12th reveals McClel- 
lan's purpose more clearly. " As far as military 
necessity will permit, religiously respect the constitu- 
tional rights of all. ... Be careful so to treat the un- 
armed inhabitants as to contract, not widen, the breach 
existing between us and the rebels. It should be our 
constant aim to make it apparent to all that their prop- 


General E. V. Sumner and My First Reconnoissance 

erty, their comfort, and their personal safety will be 
best preserved by adhering to the cause of the Union." 
Eemember that that word " property " in McClellan's 
mind was meant to include the slaves. 

Similar instructions went from him to Halleck, in 
Missouri, who was further ordered to mass his troops 
on or near the Mississippi, " prepared for such ulterior 
operations " as the public interests might demand. 

General T. W. Sherman with a detachment was at 
the same time dispatched against Savannah and the 
coast below. The original plan was: to gain Fort 
Sumter and hold Charleston. But for a time that plan 
was postponed. 

After New Orleans and its approaches had been 
secured by Butler, McClellan contemplated a combined 
army and navy attack on Mobile. His idea of " essen- 
tial approaches " to New Orleans embraced Baton 
Eouge, La., and Jackson, Miss. 

Bumside received his instructions to first attack 
Eoanoke Island, its defenses and adjacent coast points. 

These positive instructions given by McClellan and 
to a reasonable extent carried out, during the spring 
of 1862, show his activity of mind and good broad 
planning. The protection of the possessions of the 
disloyal, especially of the slave property, was doubt- 
less an unwise insistence, but it originated in the great 
heart of Mr. Lincoln, who hoped almost against hope 
to win the secessionists back without going to dire 
extremities, and earnestly desired to please all Union 
slaveholders. McClellan was simply the soldier front 
of this view, a conscientious exponent of the policy. 

I had reason to remember Burnside's going forth, 
for he was permitted to take with his other troops to 
North Carolina my Fourth Ehode Island Eegiment. 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

On January 3d Colonel Isaac P. Eodman came to my 
tent at one o'clock in the morning, showing a dispatch 
which directed him to report immediately at Annapo- 
lis. He was an excellent officer and a great gain to 
Burnside. He died from wounds received in the battle 
of Antietam. The Fourth Rhode Island had as chap- 
lain an Episcopal clergyman, Rev. E. B. Flanders, 
much esteemed in our brigade. He was as efficient in 
the field as he had been in his home parish. I find an 
old letter in which my aid writes that I scarcely slept 
the night after I received that order. This was foolish, 
indeed, but it indicates how much I was attached to 
that regiment. One good soldier. Private McDonald, 
being on detail as my orderly, remained with me till 
his death in Georgia during the campaign of 1864, 
When the news of Burnside's attack reached us from 
Roanoke and thirty-five men were reported killed, I 
was as anxious as a father to hear of the safety of 
those who had gone out from my command. 

On January 4th, taking an aid with me, I hastened, 
as was then the custom when things went wrong, to 
Washington for redress. I found the venerable Gen- 
eral Casey sitting in full uniform at the head of a 
court-martial. His uniform looked very bright and 
clean to me coming from camp. 

Moving a chair close to General Casey I appealed 
to him to get me another regiment and one as well 
drilled as possible. After listening to my whispered 
argument he said : " Oh, I will give you a good selec- 
tion. You had better take the Sixty-fourth New York 
— Colonel Parker." So very soon the Sixty-fourth New 
York came to fill the vacancy left by the Fourth Rhode 

At that time General Sumner was in Washington. 


General E. V. Sumner and My First Reconnoissance 

Just before this visit he had met with a serious acci- 
dent and had gone to Washington, where he could re- 
ceive better nursing than was possible in camp. Sum- 
ner was riding one day and crossing some fields not 
far from headquarters, when his horse stepped into a 
blind post hole and fell, throwing the general forward 
to the ground. Injury was done to his shoulder and 
lungs. He remounted his horse and rode back to camp 
with difficulty ; lame and suffering as he was he sat up 
in his saddle, as was his custom. When he neared the 
camp he crossed the sentinel's post and the sentinel 
saluted. He not only became erect in his posture re- 
gardless of the pain, but carefully and politely re- 
turned the soldier's courtesy. God preserve to our 
people the remembrance of such a man ! 

I found the general in Washington convalescing, 
and he welcomed the messages of sympathy from his 
division. I was anxious for his return and coveted the 
anticipated advantages to be derived from his long 
and varied experience, always remembering his pro- 
nounced loyalty, ardent patriotism, and prompt action. 

We have seen that military operations were influ- 
enced very much in the interest of slavery by purely 
political considerations. Plans were modified by the 
endeavor not so much to conquer an enemy under 
arms, as to restore the Union or preserve the Union 
wherever slaveholders existed and showed themselves 
loyal to the United States. Conquer the insurgents, 
of course, but hurt those behind them as little as pos- 
sible! Save them from themselves and save the 
country ! 

Certainly the problem presented could not be thus 
solved, because the Confederates themselves were 
otherwise determined. Neither in the political nor 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

military arena did they so show themselves to us. 
They were too heated to consider or comprehend such 
high principles of action. They said everywhere 
where the echo of their voices could reach : " Come on, 
we defy you ! We are in earnest. We mean war ! We 
have struck for independence ! " 

Their leaders were too ardent, too determined, too 
well prepared in plan and purpose to accept any sort 
of compromise. They had no patience whatever with 
the Unionists and half Unionists among themselves. 
And, indeed, we ought from every military conception 
to have accepted this gage of combat as much as pos- 
sible, as did Grant, Sherman, Thomas, and Sheridan 
at later dates. But we must remember that in Janu- 
ary, 1862, the country had not yet so decided, and our 
Eastern forces were far behind the Western in the 
wish to free the slaves. It is for this reason that so 
many veteran soldiers, and among them those who 
were even then loyal to humanity, maintained that Mc- 
Clellan was doing his simple duty and could not be 
censured for the politico-military course which he at 
that time was obliged to pursue. 

In order to prevent the ever-present hostile espio- 
nage from probing and revealing his plan, McClellan 
carefully guarded his lips. None of us could guess just 
what our army would attempt. But Johnston, our 
enemy at Centreville, Va., was shrewder than those 
who came in daily contact with our young chief. The 
sudden movement of Hooker's division down the east 
bank of the Potomac to a point opposite Dumfries, os- 
tensibly to prevent hostile agents from passing back 
and forth with news and goods, was by him correctly 

He justly reasoned: once behind the Eappahan- 


General E. V. Sumner and My First Reconnoissanee 

nock the Confederate army will be in place to meet 
either of the five possible moves of McClellan: 1st, 
the direct by the Orange and Alexandria Railway ; 2d, 
the one via Aquia Creek and Fredericksburg; 3d, that 
via Urbana, McClellan's favorite project ; 4th, via the 
Virginia Peninsula, and 5th, to ascend the south bank 
of the James. At Centre ville he was only in position 
to meet the first or second. That move of a division 
to a point opposite Dumfries meant the Urbana route 
for McClellan and so no time was to be lost, because 
Johnston knew that our preparations in the way of 
transports were already far advanced. Johnston com- 
menced his rearward movement the day before the 
publication, not of McClellan's Urbana design, but 
of the orders for more preliminary work which for the 
safety of Washington was insisted on by the Adminis- 
tration. To satisfy, if possible, the impatience of the 
people and doubtless excited himself by so many de- 
lays, Abraham Lincoln ordered on March 8th : " That 
the Army and Navy cooperate in an immediate effort 
to capture the enemy's batteries on the Potomac be- 
tween Washington and the Chesapeake Bay." This, 
too, Johnston seems to have anticipated. His aban- 
donment of Centreville was completed by the close of 
the 9th and his action in this was known on my front 
that same day. Disagreements now began to set in 
between the President, a large party faction urging 
him, and McClellan, in which several general officers 
took sides and bore a part. As a result of many coun- 
cils, not McClellan's favorite Urbana project, but his 
second choice, the peninsular plan, was after a time 
chosen for the Army of the Potomac and very soon 
thereafter McClellan's command was reduced to that 
army. Probably the President thought that to be quite 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

enough now that McClellan was to take the field and be 
constantly away from the capital. 

General Sumner had sufficiently recovered from his 
hurt to admit of his riding, and he had come back to 
his division, but he left his Sibley tent to sleep for a 
time in Mr. Watkins's house. The evening of March 
3d I was writing a home letter when I received a note 
from Sumner asking me as soon as convenient to come 
over to his quarters. I hastened to the interview, 
which resulted in my taking three regiments the next 
day to protect the bridge builders at Accotink Eun, six 
miles ahead, on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad. 
I went as far as Fairfax Station, driving the Confed- 
erate pickets before me. That movement on March 
4th and the bridge building, which did not deceive 
Johnston nor arrest his preparations for leaving Cen- 
treville, but rather quickened them, set the ball in mo- 
tion. A brigade, E. Kirby Smith's, stationed at Fair- 
fax and vicinity, retired as I advanced and soon 
after joined the main Confederate army at Manassas 

The news, a few days later, came : " Centreville is 
evacuated." It startled and disappointed everybody 
at Washington. The peninsular plan now quickly 
came to the front. Quartermasters, commissaries, 
naval officers, commanders of steamers and army sut- 
lers were stimulated and warmed into busy life. 
Everybody, great and small, had some mysterious and 
unusual thing to do. At last for a brief time fretting 
ceased, for there was a definiteness of purpose ; there 
was activity; there was motion. The army so long 
" quiet on the Potomac " was going somewhere and 
was promising to do something, and, indeed, all parties 
except the grumblers, the faint-hearted, and a few se- 


General E. V. Sumner and My First Reconnoissance 

cession wives and mothers who never could see why 
their husbands and sons should fight for the " Fed- 
eral" Government, were far happier than they had 
been for six months because they were now full of hope 
for a victory and then a speedy return in joy. It is 
good for us that we cannot trump up all the conse- 
quences to the atoms we jostle and displace. Sorrow, 
sickness, wounds, and a harvest of death were ahead, 
but nobody but our farseeing President had then 
caught the glimpse of a fatal symptom spot. On April 
9th he wrote to McClellan : 

" I always insisted that going down to the bay in 
search of a field instead of fighting at or near Manas- 
sas, was only shifting and not surmounting a difficulty ; 
that we should find the same enemy and the same or 
equal intrenchments at either place." Mr. Lincoln in- 
stinctively felt that the true objective all the time was 
not Richmond but Johnston's army. 

After we had finished the bridge building across 
the Accotink we had returned to Camp California and 
settled back into our old ways of living, so that the 
news of the actual evacuation of Centreville stirred us 
up as it did the rest of the army. The night of March 
9th, after the news came, I had lain down and slept 
a while, when, Sumner being again in Washington on 
some temporary duty, a dispatch came to me to move 
the whole division at six o'clock the next morning. It 
was already near midnight. I went at once to Sum- 
ner's headquarters at Mr. Watkins's house, called 
together the brigade commanders and handed them 
the order of march. We worked all night and set out 
in good trim at the appointed hour, but had hardly 
gained the road when Sumner returned and assumed 
command of his moving column. 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

That day, March 10th, Sumner gave his men, im- 
accustomed to marching, a hard trial of seventeen 
miles. " What's seventeen miles," he asked at evening, 
" for a soldier? " It had rained — poured — most of the 
time. I had commanded my brigade and also the ad- 
vance guard. The mud was first slippery and then 
deep; the weather was chilly and damp, making the 
rests uncomfortable and the night worse, as we were 
without canvas shelter, yet owing to previous disci- 
pline there was none of the Bull Eun straggling. 
Sumner's division, made up of the three brigades, and 
the Eighth Illinois Cavalry, with Clarke's and Frank's 
six-gun batteries of artillery, continued its march the 
11th, and kept on to Manassas Junction and beyond. 
The Confederate cavalry leader, J. E. B. Stuart, 
watched our advancing forces, retiring from knoll to 
knoll, from grove to grove, as we pressed on. That 
cavalry was Johnston's rear guard, when his army was 
in motion southward, and became his outpost and pick- 
eting force as soon as Johnston halted. Sumner 
stopped his general movement at Warrenton Junction, 
thirteen miles south of Manassas. Now he had two 
divisions, because Blenker's, made up mostly of Ger- 
mans, had joined him at Manassas. 

In spite of McClellan's objection, Mr. Lincoln had 
caused him to organize his Potomac force into army 
corps. McClellan complied on March 13th, so that Sum- 
ner, during his first march, came into command of the 
Second Corps. I. B. Eichardson was appointed com- 
mander of our division, John Sedgwick and Louis 
Blenker of the other two. The actual change of com- 
manders was effected while we were tramping the 
Virginia mud, and by small fires drying sundry spots 
large enough to sleep on. 


General E. V. Sumner and My First Reconnoissance 

The main body of McClellan's army, which had 
started up like a suddenly awakened dreamer and 
pushed out in pursuit of Johnston with more than 
twenty-five miles the start, ceased advancing and 
moved back to the vicinity of Alexandria, March 15th. 
Sumner with two of his divisions was left at Warren- 
ton Junction till other Union troops not of the Army 
of the Potomac should be sent forward to relieve him. 
McClellan desired Sumner to make a strong reconnois- 
sance forward as far as the Eappahannock River, and 
the latter gave me a detachment for that purpose made 
up of my brigade, some regiments from French's bri- 
gade, Hazzard's battery, and the Eighth Illinois Cav- 
alry. I was greatly pleased that I had been selected 
for this expedition, and I worked a whole night to 
make the needed preparations. 

In the morning General French told Sumner that 
he ran too great a risk, that my detachment by going 
so far from support would be captured, and surely that 
it was not wise to let one like me, with so little expe- 
rience, go with raw troops so far away from the corps 
as the Rappahannock. Sumner called me in and said 
that he feared to let me make the reconnoissance. In- 
stantly I begged him to try me. I showed my night 
work, my preparation, and my safe plan, and 
said: " General, you will never regret having trusted 

Suddenly, with that fierce determination which we 
always saw him have in battle, he said : " Go ! go ! " 
And I am sure I let no moments waste in setting off. 
All day, March 29th, covered with a good infantry 
skirmish line, and scouting broadly with our cavalry, 
I marched my regiments steadily forward by these 
means and by the occasional use of the battery from 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

hill to hill driving my old friend's (Stuart's) forces 
beyond the Eappahannock. 

My personal friend, Captain George W. Hazzard, 
commanding the battery, greatly aided in accomplish- 
ing the purposes of the expedition. For a while Haz- 
zard had been the colonel of an Indiana regiment, but 
he left it alleging that the tender-hearted Indiana 
mothers had banished him because of the hardness of 
his discipline. It inspired our men greatly to see with 
what lightning rapidity his six guns flew into action 
and fired under his quick, confident commands. 

After the work of the day had been done and we 
saw the smoking Eappahannock Bridge, I went into 
camp with great care, facing different ways upon the 
top of a thickly wooded height. I was told that the 
venturesome Stuart during the night came over the 
river and made a personal examination, and that he 
afterwards said Howard had taken such a position and 
so posted his troops that he decided not to attack him. 
On my return Sumner met me with the gladness of a 

As the Maryland " political campaign " had gained 
me General Casey's confidence, so this reconnoissance 
and successful skirmishing for nine miles, small affair 
though it was, had gained for me the hearty good will 
of General Sumner. 

By trying to do thoroughly the lesser things in- 
trusted to me, I find they have proved stepping-stones 
to something more important. 




IN order to leave McClellan's army free to act Gen- 
eral Banks was to come from West Virginia and 
command a fifth corps with which to cover Washing- 
ton. He was to give np Sedgwick's fine division to 
complete Sumner's corps. While matters were being 
planned and were not yet half executed, Stonewall 
Jackson, always our marplot, struck one of Banks's 
divisions near Winchester. Fortunately, General 
Shields, the division commander, with his arm shat- 
tered in the beginning of the battle, succeeded in hold- 
ing Jackson at bay, and after a terrific conflict forced 
him up the Shenandoah Valley. But the battle itself 
served to call back to West Virginia General A. S. 
Williams's division, which belonged to Banks and was 
already en route to Manassas with orders to relieve 
our troops, that we might go back to Alexandria and 
follow our comrades via the Chesapeake to the Vir- 
ginia Peninsula. 

Banks himself with his Fifth Corps never did suc- 
ceed in making that contemplated Centreville and 
Manassas march to cover Washington. But provi- 
sional troops from Washington were at last sent out 
to replace ours, watch against Confederate raids in 
that quarter, and secure the Manassas field as a shield 
to the capital. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Stonewall Jackson's interruption of well-conceived 
and well-ordered proposals caused such apprehension 
on all sides that the President gave the following 
order, which I have always wished he had not been 
worried into issuing: 

Adjutant General's Office, April 3, 1862. 
To General George B. McClellan, etc. 

By the direction of the President, General McDowell's army 
corps has been detached from under your immediate command 
and the general is ordered to report to the secretary of war. 
Letter by mail. 

L. Thomas, 
[Signed.] Adjutant General. 

To McDowell he wrote : 

While cooperating with General McClellan, you obey his i 
orders, except that you are to judge, and are not to allow your 
force to be disposed otherwise than so as to give the greatest 
protection to this capital. 

This came from the President's anxiety for the 
protection of Washington. He could, however, have 
secured precisely that same protection by giving his 
instructions directly to McClellan. Mr. Lincoln evi- 
dently had begun to distrust McClellan; if so, it was 
not wisdom to keep him in command and at the same 
time plainly show distrust by telling a corps com- 
mander to obey his orders or not, according to that 
commander's judgment. 

I am not surprised at McClellan's grievous com- 
plaint. " I may confess," he said, " to have been 
shocked at this order which, with that of the 31st ul- 
timo, removed nearly 60,000 men from my command 
and reduced my force by more than one-third after its 
task had been assigned, its operations planned, and its 


The Peninsular Campaign Begun 

fighting begun. ... It compelled the adoption of an- 
other, a different and a less effective plan of cam- 
paign." To this statement his officers agreed and still 
agree. It was a heavy blow, and with one constituted 
like McClellan it was so crippling and disappointing as 
to render subsequent operations on his part less bril- 
liant and decisive. 

What paralyzed his arm most was this want of con- 
fidence on the part of the President and his advisers, 
and the growing opposition to him everywhere for po- 
litical reasons. Think of the antislavery views of 
Stanton and Chase; of the growing antislavery senti- 
ments of the congressional committee on the conduct 
of war ; think of the number of generals like Fremont, 
Butler, Banks, Hunter, and others in everyday cor- 
respondence with the Cabinet, whose convictions were 
already strong that the slaves should be set free; 
think, too, of the Eepublican press constantly becom- 
ing more and more of the same opinion, and the masses 
of the people really leading the press. McClellan's 
friends in the army had often offended the Northern 
press. In his name radical antislavery correspon- 
dents had been expelled from the army. An incident 
affecting the popular Hutchinson family shows some 
of the conditions that existed. Because they had been 
singing a song which ended with : 

What whets the knife 
For the Union's hfe? 
Hark to the answer: 
Slavery! Slavery! 

an order of McClellan was issued recalling the permit 
given to them to sing in camp; and their pass to cross 
the Potomac was annulled. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

On April 1, 1862, the country was divided in sen- 
timent touching the political policy henceforth to 
be pursued, the majority evidently inclining to the 
belief that " the Union as it was " could never be 

It is not under these circumstances at all unac- 
countable that Mr. Lincoln's faith in McClellan should 
have been gradually undermined. McClellan had be- 
gun his work when the preservation of slavery was ac- 
cepted as necessary and, naturally conservative, it was 
next to impossible for him to modify or abandon an 
opinion once formed. 

Thus McClellan, a soldier of conservative tenden- 
cies, promising sincerely to prevent, if possible, the 
dissolution of the Union, and to preserve or restore 
that Union as it was before the war, became now, the 
moment the abolition of slavery as a war measure or 
otherwise entered as a watchword, the great name 
around which to rally all the political forces opposed 
to the party in power. 

On the contrary, Lincoln, moving with his party, 
naturally kept with his political household, while the 
Eepublicans gradually passed from their " nonexten- 
sion " principles to their final stand against all human 
enslavement. McClellan was, and continued to be, a 
war Democrat. Lincoln at heart detested slavery and 
became an emancipator. He personally liked McClel- 
lan, but he began to see, prior to Johnston's retreat, 
that McClellan must gain victories and gain them 
quickly, or as President he would be forced by an im- 
perious public sentiment to choose another chief. He 
practically began this (March 11th) by relieving Mc- 
Clellan from the command of all other armies besides 
that of the Potomac. 


The Peninsular Campaign Begun 

While he longed for his success on the peninsula, he 
did not dare to risk Fremont in the Mountain Depart- 
ment, Banks in West Virginia, or Wadsworth in the 
District of Columbia, without giving to each sufficient 
force to make the defense of the capital secure. And 
in addition it seemed to him imperative to detach Mc- 
Dowell, put him directly under the Secretary of War, 
and hold him and his corps for a time at Falmouth and 

Could McClellan instinctively have comprehended 
all this, he doubtless would have been chary of his en- 
treaties and beseechings for more force, would have 
masked the Confederate troops near Yorktown with a 
good division, and pushed the remainder of his army 
rapidly up the left bank of the York River before John- 
ston's arrival and before his enemy's reenforcement. 
That was McClellan's opportunity. 

On April 1st in all the land satisfactory results 
were not wanting. The Confederacy had been pushed 
into narrower limits along its whole northern frontier 
and along the Mississippi, and important Atlantic and 
Gulf Coast positions had been captured. 

In the face of many disasters to the Confederate 
cause there was much discouragement at Richmond. 
On March 30th General Robert E. Lee was put in com- 
mand of all the Confederate armies, but was not e;^- 
pected to go into the field himself. This left General 
Joseph E. Johnston to command only in our front on 
the peninsula. 

A letter from Richmond said : " The President 
(Davis) took an affectionate leave of him (Johnston) 
the other day; and General Lee held his hand a long 
time and admonished him to take care of his life. 
There was no necessity for him to endanger it as had 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

just been done by the brave Albert Sydney Johnston, 
at Shiloh, whose fall is now universally lamented." 

This gallant Confederate commander, once away 
from Eichmond in the turmoil of battle, fogot that af- 
fectionate warning. 

Here, then, we have McClellan and Johnston, each 
set apart to manipulate a single army — the one the 
Army of the Potomac and the other the Army of 
Northern Virginia — no wider range and view de- 
manded of them than a single field of operation and 
the two contending armies. 

As McClellan stepped ashore near Fortress Mon- 
roe the afternoon of April 2d, Admiral Goldsboro was 
out in Hampton Roads with his fleet; the entrance to 
York River was then clear enough of foes, but a ter- 
rible soreness was afflicting that naval squadron. 
There was a waning confidence in wooden vessels! 
Only a few days back the long-dreaded Confederate 
ironclad, the Merrimac, had come like a gigantic, all- 
powerful monster and destroyed the Conc/ress and the 
Cumberland and disabled the Minnesota and sent a 
large percentage of our naval force to the bottom. 
Nothing hut that little shapeless Monitor, providen- 
tially arriving the day after that one-sided, hopeless, 
bloody battle, was between the fleet and utter destruc- 
tion. The monster Merrimac had not only faced and 
defied our navy with the contempt of a Goliath and 
slain her stalwart sons without the hope of redress, 
but had humbled and conquered the old-fashioned and 
well-merited naval pride with which our brave officers 
and men had regarded their well-manned and well- 
armed ships. The Monitor thus far was thought to 
have succeeded only in worrying the gigantic enemy 
and causing a temporary withdrawal. Nobody then 


The Peninsular Campaign Begun 

believed it the imal contest. Of course, Admiral Golds- 
boro and his men bravely stayed in Hampton Eoads, 
ready to die there if need be ; but McClellan could not 
get that strong, constant, energetic, sanguine help 
for Yorktown that Grant had had from Commodore 
Foote's fleet at Fort Henry, or that was subsequently 
rendered the army by Admirals Porter and Farragut 
on the Mississippi and at Mobile. 

Johnston had two forces to watch — McDowell on the 
Fredericksburg line of approach to Richmond and Mc- 
Clellan landing at Ship Point near Fortress Monroe. 
The Confederate general Magruder, having Johnston's 
advance troops, had seized and fortified the line of the 
Warwick and made that swampy stream the meeting 
point of the two great armies. Magruder's force 
numbered somewhere between 10,000 and 17,000 effec- 
tives at the time our advance touched his outposts. It 
must have been contemplated by both Lee and John- 
ston in the outset to force the principal expected battle 
to grounds near Richmond, because at Yorktown or 
Williamsburg the left of their position was already 
completely turned by McDowell's corps. They doubt- 
less did not base their plans on a Washington scare, 
and so could not count upon McDowell's being sud- 
denly anchored back there at the Rappahannock. 
Undoubtedly, Magruder's energy and enterprise did 
secure a longer delay at the Warwick and near York- 
town than was intended or dreamed of by his seniors. 
This accounts for his receiving no reenforcement 
before he began his retreat. 

The country below the Warwick, which, indeed, 
guards all the ground from river to river, from York- 
town to the James, was low, flat, and wooded with 
thickets difficult to penetrate. The natural stream 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

heading near Yorktown was narrow, but had been 
widened by artificial means, having several dams re- 
cently made. Wyman's and Lee's dams were there 
before Magruder came. The banks, gentle and 
swampy, covered with dense fringes of thickets and 
small trees, were, for the most part, impassable, easily 
defended, and remarkably uncertain to the assailant 
as to what force he would have to encounter should he 
assault. At Gloucester Point across the York River 
from Yorktown and also on the James River Ma- 
gruder had good field works and had thoroughly 
manned them. The remainder of the Warwick stretch 
he held by detached bodies at the dams and other 
points to be reenforced at need by movable columns. 
The dense, impassable forest shores enabled him to do 
this handsome defensive work without detection. 

There were on our side but two roads at all prac- 
ticable as approaches to the Warwick : the one near the 
east shore and parallel with the direction of the York, 
running by Howard's Bridge straight to the village of 
Yorktown, and the other near the James via Horse 
Bridge and Warwick Court House to Lee's Mill. The 
country roads coursing hither and thither from one 
small farm to another were never reliable. Pair to 
the eye at first, with the rain and the travel of heavy 
trains, the crust, like rotten ice, gave way, and then 
horses, mules, and wagons dropped through into 
sticky mud or quicksands. 

Magruder had his Confederates on the north shore 
of the Warwick, and McClellan, with at least 50,000 
men of all arms, was working his way toward the ob- 
structions, hoping to reach Yorktown on one highway 
and pass far beyond it on the other to the Williams- 
burg " Halfway House." 


The Peninsular Campaign Begun 

My brigade in Eichardson's division, Sumner's 
corps, at last turned back from Warrenton Junction 
toward Alexandria, Va. We had been four weeks dur- 
ing the stormy March weather in the field without our 
tents. The men's shoes were spoiled by tramping long 
distances in slippery, cloggy mud with the constant 
wetting and drying, and their clothing was much soiled 
and rent, so we were hoping to halt somewhere long 
enough to refit. At Bristow Station, a place subse- 
quently renowned, welcome home letters found their 
way to our bivouac for the night. They added their 
cheer to the supper and the camp fire. 

The next day, April 3, 1862, we marched over 
ground already more familiar than the farms and 
meadows of my native town — Manassas, Bull Run, 
Sangster's, Fairfax, and Springfield. The excessive 
weight originally carried by the men was reduced to 
a minimum. My men did not straggle. At a rout step 
they smoked and chatted with each other, keeping well 
closed up and never relaxing their swinging, easy gait. 
Now and then for relief they lifted the musket from 
one shoulder to the other. Now and then somebody 
struck up a song with a chorus and all joined in the 
singing. It was a pleasure to see the men cross a 
fordable stream — frequent in that part of Virginia. 
They waded creeks fifty feet wide. Sometimes, to fore- 
stall grumbling and set an example, I dismounted and 
walked ahead to the farther bank. The regimental 
bands played during the passage and the soldiers, with- 
out elongating the column, marched straight through 
the waters. In crossing Broad Run the water was high 
and came up to our hips. 

We reached Alexandria on April 4th, three days 
after McClellan's departure for Fortress Monroe. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

The transports were already on hand, so that we could 
not stay to refit as I had hoped, but marched at once 
on board. Here our division commander. General 
Eichardson, for the first time joined his division. He 
was a large, fleshy man, generally careless in his at- 
tire and toilet ; an officer who knew him said : " He is 
inclined to lie abed in the morning." I soon, however, 
learned to prize him for his pluck and energy that 
came out in battle and on an active campaign. In the 
fight he was a capital leader, very cool and self- 

The greater part of my brigade found good accom- 
modations on the Spaulding, a transport ship where 
our men could be well distributed and find the rest they 
coveted. They were much interested to see for the 
first time the lower Potomac and catch a glimpse of 
Mount Vernon as we steamed down the broadening 
river. Personally, having been much wearied with the 
care and movement of the troops,! did enjoy that short 
voyage. The rest was sweet and more precious when 
that night, after all but the sentinels and a few officers 
were asleep, I sat down with pen and paper to think 
of home. It had been almost a year of absence from 
the precious little group there! A startling question 
not so restful closed my revery : When shall I see them 
again ? 

Saturday evening, April 5th, brought us to the 
place of debarkation and I sent two regiments ashore. 
This was Ship Point intended just then for the 
main depot of supplies for the army. A dim twilight 
survey of this landing and the vicinity was my first 
introduction to the Virginia peninsula. The land- 
scape in the fading light appeared delightful — small 
openings amid variegated forests generally level, and 


The Peninsular Campaign Begun 

the roads smooth and promising. A few days later I 
recorded : The ground is almost all quicksand. I have 
worked my brigade very hard, making roads and 
bridges, loading and unloading barges and wagons 
filled with commissary and quartermaster's stores. 

We took up our first camp a little to the south of 
the landing in a pretty grove, making my own head- 
quarters at Mr. Pomphrey's house. Mr. Pomphrey 
passed for a poor man, yet he owned 200 acres of land, 
15 slaves, and had a wife quite as much a slave, as the 
others, to the pipe which she incessantly smoked. 

One never saw more grateful people than Mr. Pom- 
phrey and his wife when I proposed to make his house 
my headquarters. He said with a sigh of relief : " I 
shall sleep to-night ! " Their wilderness had been sud- 
denly transformed into a strange city where soldiers, 
wagoners, negroes, and camp followers were con- 
stantly coming night and day, rummaging and often 
seizing what they could lay their hands upon. I could 
not help thinking how my own mother would feel to 
have her cows shot, her chickens killed, the eggs stolen, 
and the cellar robbed of an entire winter's supply. 
Such was the work of some characters who — hard to 
discover and control near that thickly populated land- 
ing — mingled with us. 

General McClellan paid us a visit on April 9th, 
making a brief stay at my headquarters, and a longer 
one at Richardson's. 

There my first knowledge of a difference between 
him and our much-loved President dawned upon me. 
His aid-de-camp, Colonel Colburn, complained bitterly 
to me of the action of the President in taking away 
over 50,000 troops which had been promised to Mc- 
Clellan. Of course, Mr. Lincoln's promise had been 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

contingent upon the safety of the capital, but at that 
time I did not know of the contingency and so could 
make no reply. 

I heard McClellan, during this visit, remark to an- 
other officer that he found Yorktown a very strong 
place. He said : " It cannot be carried without a par- 
tial siege." 

He examined carefully our temporary wharves, 
structures, and roadways along the shore. He talked 
very much to the point with our quartermaster in 
charge and with others ; while doing this he partook of 
a luncheon and indulged in a smoke at Richardson's 
headquarters; then, with the small staff which had 
accompanied him, rode away toward Yorktown. I 
trusted McClellan and sympathized with his disap- 
pointments, but had misgivings when I heard the 
words, " a partial siege at Yorktown ! " 

For a short time while we were waiting for men 
and material that belonged to our division to come by 
other steamers than the Spaulding, the days were 
mainly spent in constructing a " log road " from Ship 
Point to Yorktown. Indeed, after the first cold and 
drenching rain, we discovered that that whole vicinage 
was underlaid with " sinking sand." We constantly 
beheld whole fields of poor, struggling mules more 
than half buried in front of heavy wagons with wheels 
sunken to the hubs. All the roads, which on our ar- 
rival had been beautiful and smooth, without rut or 
stone, had become miry and treacherous. We were 
toiling on with the vigor of men who knew how to work 
and were making commendable progress with our cor- 
duroying when, on April 16th, the order came to pro- 
ceed at once to Yorktown and join our corps. Before 
the close of the 17th all the brigades of Sumner's com- 


The Peninsular Campaign Begun 

mand were together in " Camp Winfield Scott." This 
force, usually from this time designated by its number 
" the Second Corps," was not far from the center of 
the general line and pretty well back. 

My private notes made after our arrival at York- 
town indicate a considerable impatience on my part 
because of the slowness of the army. The reasons 
given for so much delay seemed insufficient. A siege 
party was working on our right indicating circumval- 
lation and regular approaches, and a detachment of 
our men were throwing up breastworks near the mid- 
dle of our front line, as though we might have to resist 
an attack from Magruder. 

The morning of April 24th I rode to McClellan's 
headquarters to pay my respects to him and to some 
of his staff. The grandeur of that staif greatly im- 
pressed me. I had a long talk with my old friend Colo- 
nel Kingsbury, chief of ordnance in the field. He said 
in parting : " General McClellan wishes to get all his 
batteries in readiness before he opens fire. If our 
friends could realize the kind of country they are in 
they would not be impatient." Thus Kingsbury gently 
rebuked my impatience. 

In the afternoon of the same day I went to the ex- 
treme left of McClellan's lines and followed the War- 
wick Eiver in that neighborhood as far as I could on 
horseback, along its swampy border and impenetrable 
thickets, and visited Generals Erasmus D. Keyes, Silas 
Casey, and other acquaintances who were stationed 
near that flank. During my ride we were crossing a 
narrow ravine in the midst of which was a sluggish, 
muddy stream. Lieutenant Nelson A. Miles, my aid- 
de-camp, rode up and, though usually ardent, wisely 
checked his horse. Believing I could easily clear the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

stream at a bound I let my active horse, " Charlie," 
have the reins. He sprang forward but was unable to 
make the leap — the ground at the starting point not 
being firm enough ; in fact, the whole bank before and 
beneath him gave way and we sank to his shoulders in 
the yielding mud. I scrambled off as best I could and 
left " Charlie " to himself. After some floundering 
and a few plunges he managed to catch the firm 
ground. My own mishap saved the remainder of the 
party from a mud bath. 

Warwick Court House consisted of a small, brick 
schoolhouse, a building for the court, a jail of less size, 
and one other fair structure, probably intended for a 
store. Near at hand was a dilapidated dwelling house. 
These made up the little village which occupied one 
clearing. The intervale lands in the neighborhood at 
that season of springtime were beautiful. Apple and 
peach trees were in blossom, the grass was a bright 
green, and all the trees were putting forth their leaves. 




Tj^ROM April 17 to May 4, 1862, my brigade did not 
-*■ change its camp and was employed by detach- 
ments in constructions for siege operations, such as 
fascines — long bundles of rods or twigs — or gabions — 
tall baskets without bottoms — for use in lining the 
openings or embrasures of earthworks through which 
cannon were to be fired. The men of the division not 
otherwise employed did picket and guard duty, and 
were exercised daily in company, regimental, and bri- 
gade drills. 

In order to be as familiar as possible with the 
places where I might have to take my command into 
action, I visited in turn the various portions of our 
front. On April 26th, after I had set large detach- 
ments from my brigade at work and had seen them 
diligently constructing fascines and gabions, I rode 
over to the York River in order to examine the water 
batteries. From that locality the Confederate fort on 
Gloucester Point across the river was in plain sight, 
and we could also see the enemy's water battery on the 
Yorktown side. From our position to the opposite 
shore the distance was two miles. Five of the guns in 
our Battery No. 1 were one hundred pounders, Par- 
rott muzzle-loading rifles, and two two hundred pound- 
ers, Parrott. They were mounted on wrought-iron 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

carriages which appeared so slender as to be in danger 
of being broken by a single recoil. Other batteries 
had ten-, twenty-, and thirty-pounder Parrott and four 
and one-half-inch guns in place ready for work. Others 
had eight- and ten-inch mortars. The next morning 
I continued my visits and found near the center of 
our position — directly in front of Sumner's corps — 
with a field battery having epaulements for six guns, 
my friend Lieutenant Edmund Kirby in charge ; he had 
just recovered from a serious attack of typhoid fever. 

My next ride for information was made May 1st. 
It was along the front and to examine our first paral- 
lel, which was a trench twelve feet wide and three feet 
deep, the dirt being thrown toward the enemy. All 
along the parallel were openings in the embankment 
for batteries of siege guns. This trench was parallel 
to the enemy's works and 1,500 yards from them. 
Accompanied by my brother and aid, Lieutenant 
Howard, I continued back of the parallel eastward 
as far as the York River, and we took a good look at 
the waiting gunboats, some of which had come up the 
river to cooperate in the siege. We looked at each 
other and inquired : " How soon shaH we do some- 

From day to day we read and wrote letters and 
had plenty of time to visit each other, as well as to 
study the slowly growing constructions. Occasionally 
the enemy would toss a shell over to our side, and now 
and then roll a ball of iron along our road with motion 
too swift to touch. A skirmish somewhere on the front 
line occasionally came off, and sometimes we were 
startled into abnormal activity by a false alarm; but 
on the whole we had a long and peaceful sojourn near 


The Battle of Williamsburg 

Near the end of " the siege of Yorktown," Frank- 
lin's division was permitted to come to us from Mc- 
Dowell, and, remaining on transports, was waiting for 
the great bombardment before commencing to perform 
its appointed role. But the great bombardment never 

Sunday morning, May 4th, all at my headquarters 
had attended to ordinary military duties. Before 
breakfast I invited to my tent Captain Sewall, my ad- 
jutant general, Lieutenant Howard, Lieutenant Bal- 
loch, Orderly McDonald, an English manservant, and 
Charley Weis, a messenger whose sobriquet was 
" Bony." We read that chapter of Daniel which tells 
the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego pass- 
ing through the fiery furnace unscathed. Then fol- 
lowed, from one of the officers present, an earnest 
petition to the Lord of Hosts for protection, guidance, 
and blessing. As soon as breakfast was over I com- 
menced a letter to Mrs. Howard, and, writing rapidly, 
had finished about two pages, when suddenly, without 
completing the sentence, I jotted down : " Yorktown is 
abandoned and our troops are marching in." I added 
a little later : " I am now, quarter before eight a.m., 
under marching orders. Thank Him who doeth all 
things well." 

It was Sumner's entire corps which had received 
orders of march. Besides the two divisions, Richard- 
son's and Sedgwick's, Sumner's corps still included 
the Eighth Illinois Cavalry. Our division artillery 
had four batteries — twenty-four guns. Thus far no 
change had been made in the entire division, except the 
transfer of the cavalry to corps headquarters. 

From our location south of Yorktown in the rear 
of all, we were naturally long delayed in taking up the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

march toward Williamsburg, for the only through 
routes, already almost impassable after the Confeder- 
ate columns had waded through them, were thronged 
with cavalry and the corps of Heintzelman and Keyes. 
We held ourselves in readiness, impatiently waiting all 
day the 4th. McClellan's first plan, made known later 
in the day, designated our division with Sedgwick's 
and Fitz-John Porter's as the reserve, either to go to 
Williamsburg, if imperatively needed, or to follow 
Franklin's division on transports up the York Eiver 
and support him in his work, or take and hold a 
landing on the same side of the river twenty-five 
miles above. To carry out this plan, early on Monday, 
the 5th, Sedgwick's and our division broke camp and 
marched to the immediate neighborhood of Yorktown. 
Here we bivouacked and completed all our prepara- 
tions for close work — rations in the haversacks and 
ammunition on the person of each soldier. 

Owing to McClellan's siege operations, General 
Johnston determined to withdraw his Confederate 
forces just before the destructive bombardment should 
begin. His retreat toward Eichmond was ordered and 
carried steadily forward. Stuart's cavalry curtained 
the moving forces on the Yorktown- Williamsburg 
road, and also on the Lee's Mill and Williamsburg 
road, the two roads leading up the peninsula. 

Critics accuse us in the Army of the Potomac of not 
being early risers, and not being keen to catch the first 
evidences of evacuation. It is, indeed, a just charge 
against McClellan's information bureau; the want of 
information did enable Johnston to gain a coveted ad- 
vantage during the first day of his difficult retreat. It 
was good generalship on his part to so blind McClellan 
as to his purpose. The withdrawal of the enemy, how- 


The Battle of Williamsburg 

ever, was discovered at dawn almost simultaneously 
at several points of the front. Heintzelman, in front 
of Yorktown, seeing fires reflected in the sky and hear- 
ing explosions which sounded like a skirmish, had him- 
self taken up in a balloon to make sure of the cause 
before ordering a general advance, and saw the de- 
struction of magazines, and our pickets unopposed 
sweeping over the works which had been so formi- 
dable. Hancock, then a brigade commander, was noti- 
fied also at dawn by two negroes that the enemy 
had gone. 

McClellan, taken thus by surprise, needed time to 
think and time to interpret Johnston's design. It 
might be a ruse. So he put Fitz-John Porter's divi- 
sion in the Confederate works to hold them against a 
possible return. He got Franklin with his fine body of 
fresh men ready to send in transports up the York, 
with reserves to follow, and naval gunboats to aid. 

The orders to Heintzelman and Keyes were : "Draw 
in your guards, pickets, and outposts and replenish 
everything for a march." 

Between the Warwick and Williamsburg was a belt 
of country in breadth from nine to thirteen miles. It 
was a country of swamps, tangled forests, and small 
farms here and there, like glades in the woods, con- 
nected by wretched lanes. There were only two roads 
from our front, and one of them the Lee's Mill road, 
which was connected occasionally with the other, the 
Yorktown road; and it took watching and tacking to 
keep off the main thoroughfare from Yorktown to 
Williamsburg and yet travel toward the latter town. 
The men marching in the night and rain, on account of 
the effort required to lift their feet, heavy with ad- 
hesive mud, never exceeded one mile an hour. Our 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

people during that march, short as it appears, were 
like flocks of children playing at blindman's buff. 
They wandered right and left; they ran into each 
other; they reached out tentatively for obstacles and 
gained ground slowly with extreme fatigue. 

There were other troubles. When our infantry be- 
gan its march a warning came along our military tele- 
graph line that everybody should look out for " buried 
bombs." Torpedoes had been buried in the ground 
along the paths and roads which led to the Confederate 
works. Some were also found near wells and springs 
of water, a few in some flour barrels and sacks in the 
telegraph office, and one or more near a magazine. 

There was with us at Yorktown a young man by 
the name of D. B. Lathrop, from Springfield, Ohio. 
He was the son of a widow, and had been, before the 
war, studying for the ministry. When the war broke 
out, wishing to do something helpful to the Union 
cause, he joined that hard-worked and useful body, the 
telegraph corps. Mr. Lathrop was attached to Gen- 
eral Heintzelman's headquarters. As soon as York- 
town was opened, following the wires he hurried to the 
telegrajDh office. He sat down at the operator's table 
and touched the instrument. Instantly an explosion of 
a percussion shell took place and young Lathrop was 
mortally wounded. 

A little later in the day when Davidson's brigade 
was about to cross the Warwick at Lee's Mill, Colonel 
E. C. Mason, of the Seventh Maine, receiving word 
concerning Lathrop, whom he knew, and fearing tor- 
pedoes, went himself in advance of his column on the 
road beyond the dam. As he was walking slowly he 
crushed a percussion cap. Brushing away the dirt, he 
discovered the red wax at the top of the buried shell. 


The Battle of Williamsburg 

Providentially for Mason, only the cap exploded. The 
colonel then called for volunteers. Upon their hands 
and knees they crept along and succeeded in uncover- 
ing more than a dozen shells. In the approaches to 
the Yorktown works the torpedoes were usually ar- 
ranged with a narrow board, upon which a soldier's or 
horse's tread would effect an explosion. Several 
horses and men among the first passing troops were 
killed or wounded by them. McClellan soon set several 
Confederate prisoners of war to ferret them out. 

During Sunday General Stoneman with our cav- 
alry and horse artillery worked his way forward, hav- 
ing small combats with Confederate cavalry under 
Stuart. Nothing very discouraging checked him, or 
any of our cavalry detachments, from a steady ad- 
vance till he came upon the Williamsburg outworks. 
About a mile and a half from Williamsburg a consid- 
erable work called Fort Magruder was located so as 
to obstruct both the roads of which I have spoken. 
Fort Magruder had on its right and left several small 
redoubts, and the whole front was an open field for 
several hundred yards, except for the slashing of trees 
and other artificial obstructions. 

Stuart had been pressed so hard that the Confed- 
erate commander of the rear guard called back into 
the woods a division of infantry and considerable ar- 
tillery. As soon as Stoneman' s men with a battery of 
artillery swept into the spaces before these formidable 
works, they encountered all along their front a terrific 
fire of both infantry and artillery. Stoneman, thus 
suddenly repelled, fell back a short distance and called 
for help, having suffered the loss of some forty men, 
one piece of artillery, and three caissons, which had 
sunk deeply in the mud, and the horses of which were 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

nearly all killed or wounded by the prompt Confed- 
erate fire. 

This partial success determined our enemy to re- 
main a while longer and take advantage of this well- 
selected checking position. He might possibly over- 
whelm a part of McClellan's forces before the re- 
mainder could wade through the ever-deepening mud 
to its relief, for the rain had poured down all the day ; 
and, indeed, Johnston needed more time to secure a 
reasonably safe retreat. 

Sumner, being sent forward Sunday morning by 
McClellan to take care of everything at the front, 
heard the firing at Williamsburg. He hastened infan- 
try from the heads of columns of both the other corps 
to Stoneman's support, and at evening, himself being 
cut off by a sudden Confederate sally, passed the night 
with one of the brigade commanders. No aids or 
orderlies from Heintzelman or Keyes could find him. 
In fact, Heintzelman, judging from his own instruc- 
tions, thought himself to be in command. General 
Keyes, leading Casey's and Couch's divisions, had for 
himself a similar impression. Heintzelman's head of 
column under Hooker, now nearest to the James River, 
had been the first to respond to Stoneman's call for 
help. Early in the morning of Monday the three not 
very harmonious corps commanders succeeded in get- 
ting together. 

After ambitious contention, Sumner's rank was 
yielded to and his plan to turn the Confederates by our 
right agreed upon. Heintzelman set out for the left 
of our line, but was much delayed by ignorant guides. 
At last he reached Hooker. Hooker had worked up 
close to the redoubts the night before with deployed 
lines. The instructions which had come to him were to 


The Battle of Williamsburg 

support Stoneman and harass the enemy, and, if pos- 
sible, cut off his retreat. Baldy Smith's division he 
knew was on his right, and other troops in plenty some- 
where near. These circumstances were to " Fighting 
Joe Hooker " just those for winning laurels by a suc- 
cessful assault. 

Exactly contrary to Sumner's plan Hooker, already 
on the ground by daylight, commenced a regular at- 
tack on the Confederate right at about 7.30. A fierce 
and noisy struggle went on there all day. Longstreet 
came back and brought more troops. Hooker's men, 
reserves and all, pushed in, and were nearly exhausted, 
when, about 4 p.m., Phil Kearny managed to get up his 
division. Hooker's division was at last relieved by 
Kearny's and fell back to be a reserve. Hooker's sol- 
diers deserved this rest, for they had faced Fort Ma- 
gruder and those strong redoubts well manned and 
actively firing for nine hours. Kearny's men charged 
and cleared the outside point of woods, carried some 
rifle pits, and silenced troublesome light batteries, so 
that Kearny declared : " The victory is ours ! " His 
men bivouacked where they had fought. 

Thus the battle went on contrary to all planning, 
working along from left to right. While the opera- 
tions just recounted were progressing under Heintzel- 
man's eyes, Sumner and Keyes were trying to bring 
order out of confusion on the right of our line and back 
to the rear on the Yorktown road. 

A passageway across a stream and through the 
woods around the Confederate left flank having been 
discovered, Hancock's brigade, somewhat reenforced, 
was selected to make a turning movement, and its com- 
mander fought with it a brilliant and successful en- 
gagement against Early, who was badly wounded in 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

this action. Hancock's victorious troops bivouacked 
on the field in a heavy rain. When this was going on 
beyond our extreme right, the enemy made strong 
counter attacks along the Yorktown road from the 
flanks of Fort Magruder. In resisting these attacks 
our men from New York and Pennsylvania received a 
heavy fire, and left many a poor fellow dead or dying 
upon a plowed field and among the felled timber which 
protected the fort. The whole conduct of this battle 
created among our generals so much dissatisfaction, 
bickering, and complaint that McClellan was induced 
about three o'clock in the afternoon to come to the 
front. The fighting was all over when he reached Sum- 
ner's headquarters. He gathered what news he could 
from different points and sent to Washington a dis- 
patch which put Hancock far in advance of all other 
participants in the engagement. 

He thought that General Johnston intended to fight 
a general battle at that point and that his own troops 
were outnumbered; so he at once ordered Sedgwick's 
and Eichardson's divisions to march from Yorktown 
to Williamsburg. 

Just before sunset that Monday evening. May 5th, 
my brigade received its marching orders. The rain 
still continued to pour down. We set out as quickly as 
possible, my brigade following that of General French. 
I was obliged to march my men through a narrow road- 
way across the Yorktown works ; the clay mud, which 
stuck to the men's feet in lumps or masses, was from 
eight to ten inches in depth. Horses, wagons, mules, 
and footmen were coming and going both ways and 
often meeting in the narrow passage. As my brigade 
passed I remained for some time at the Yorktown 
sally port. The bits of board attached to torpedoes 


The Battle of Williamsburg 

had not all been removed, but little flags were placed as 
a warning of the presence of explosives. Some of us 
became hoarse calling to the soldiers not to move to 
the right or left, and not to step on the boards where 
the small flags were seen. It was dark before I got my 
brigade past Yorktown. 

Almost the entire night was spent in struggling for- 
ward. I tried to walk now and then to rest my horse, 
and for quite a time to allow an officer who was taken 
suddenly ill to ride, but I found it necessary to hold on 
by the halter to keep on my feet. Our men straggled 
dreadfully that night, but as soon as the day dawned 
they worked their way on to the command. We had 
finally bivouacked for the night in a rough-plowed field 
till dawn. My adjutant general, a thin man, gloomily 
placed his hips between two rails; for myself, with 
crotchets I constructed a wooden horse, fastened one 
end of a piece of canvas over it, and pulled the other 
end along the ground near to my cheerful fire, and lay 
down against the canvas for a short, sweet rest. 

At last we were halted not far from the battlefield. 
With a few officers I went to the bloody ground. The 
Confederates had departed in the night. The open 
muddy soil and the thickets were still strewn with the 
swollen dead, whose faces were generally toward the 
sky. I saw, as I moved along, a little headboard to 
mark the place of a Union soldier. His form and his 
face were carefully covered by a blanket. Near him 
was another in gray clothing left without care. In my 
heart I wished that he also had been covered. They 
seemed to be resting together in peace. I thought: 
" May God hasten us to the close of such a war ! " This 
yearning was deepened by my visits to the hospitals 
filled with poor sufferers from both armies. United in 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

pain and forced imprisonment, Confederate and Union 
soldiers there were at peace. But, receiving orders 
from General Eichardson, I myself quickly returned 
from that gloomy region to my brigade and hurried it 
back to Yorktown, to wait there for transports which 
would enable us to follow Franklin up the York Eiver 
to West Point. 

I have seen that, of the two armies, the Confederate 
brought into action at Williamsburg about ten thou- 
sand, and our army from twelve to thirteen thousand. 
Our aggregate loss, 2,239, was very large, as the troops 
in general fought against prepared works. The Con- 
federate loss was from 1,300 to 1,500 men. 

Before and after the first battle of Bull Kun it 
will be remembered that I was associated with General 
Franklin; he and I each commanded a brigade in 
Heintzelman's division. His associates always re- 
spected his ability and had confidence in his judgment. 
Franklin's division, composed of infantry and artillery, 
after its arrival had been disembarked on May 3d, at 
Cheeseman's Landing near Ship Point, with a view to 
take part in the proposed assault of Yorktown. The 
morning of the 4th, as soon as McClellan knew of the 
Confederate withdrawal, he instructed Franklin to re- 
embark and take his division to Yorktown. Franklin 
commenced the work at once, finishing the reembark- 
ing, as quickly as it could be done, about one o'clock of 
the 5th. The difficulties of reembarking, owing to the 
weather, to the loading of supplies, and the putting on 
board of the artillery carriages and other impedi- 
menta, much of which had to be hoisted from rafts, 
were greater than anybody had estimated. At any 
rate, there was no unnecessary delay. Proceeding to 
Yorktown, Franklin received further orders and was 


The Battle of Williamsburg 

ready the same evening to continue on to West Point 
accompanied by a naval convoy. The naval com- 
mander declined to start, owing to the increasing dark- 
ness and the danger of navigation during a furious 
storm. Therefore, the flotilla only left at daybreak on 
the 6th. Arriving at West Point, the disembarking 
was begun and the vicinity reconnoitered at three 
o'clock, but the landing of the artillery was not com- 
pleted till the morning of the 7th. Canal boats, which 
were aground by the bank, were used as wharves. 

General Johnston suspected, on account of the few- 
ness of our troops marshaled against him at Williams- 
burg, that McClellan was sending a flotilla up the York 
River, to seize a landing place in the vicinity of West 
Point, and attack from it the flank of his retreating 
army. The evening of Tuesday, the 6th, General G. 
W. Smith, commanding the Confederate reserve, had 
Whiting's division not far from Barhamsville, op- 
posite West Point, and three miles away. He reported 
to his chief, General Johnston, that a large body of 
United States troops had debarked from transports at 
Eltham's Landing, a little above him, and were occu- 
pying not only the open spaces, but a thick wood 
stretching from the landing to the New Kent wagon 
road. As this menaced Johnston's line of march he 
instructed Smith to dislodge our troops. This work 
Smith directed General Whitmg to do. Franklin had 
put his troops into position as they landed. His flanks 
were protected by the gunboats, which were at hand, 
to shell the woods beyond. Each flank rested on 
swampy creeks running into the river. Besides, he 
possessed himself, as far as his small force could do 
so, of the encircling woods. General H. W. Slocum 
commanded Franklin's left wing, while General John 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Newton, a loyal Virginian, commanded the right. 
Whiting, to cover Johnston's army in retreat, biv- 
ouacked in a line of battle facing Franklin, but did not 
attack that evening, as Franklin's troops appeared to 
be in a position hard to reach. He hoped to attack him 
as he moved out, but as Franklin did not advance 
Whiting attacked him furiously in position the next 
morning, the 7th, at ten o'clock. Franklin, however, in 
a three hours' conflict secured his landing, which was 
his object, and not, as Johnston feared, to attack him 
in flank during his retreat. West Point, the place 
where the Pamunkey and Mattapony unite to form the 
York River, and which is the terminus of the Richmond 
Railway, was now set apart for our new base of 

Slowly and steadily through the abounding mud, or 
by water from Yorktown, the army worked its way to 
Franklin's neighborhood, while General Johnston, with 
scarcely any further molestation, was suffered to draw 
in his forces to the vicinity of the Confederate capital. 




13 Y May 16, 1862, McClellan's force was reorganized 
•'-' so as to give to each of his corps commanders 
two divisions. We moved toward Richmond from our 
new depot at White House in this order : Porter with 
the Fifth Corps, Franklin with the Sixth, Sumner with 
the Second, Keyes with the Fourth, and Heintzelman 
with the Third. Our first move was to the Chicka- 
hominy, a stream flowing from right to left across our 
line of advance. At first, Heintzelman and Keyes biv- 
ouacked near Bottom's Bridge; Sumner's corps, to 
which I belonged, a few miles up stream ; Franklin not 
far from New Bridge, and Porter near Mechanicsville. 
Meanwhile the main body of our cavalry, well out, 
guarded our right and rear with a view to clear the 
way to McDowell's force, then in front of Fredericks- 
burg, and protect our large depot at the White House 
and the railroad line from that point to the army. 

Porter, with a slight reenforcement to his corps, 
moved out from our right and fought the successful 
small battle of Hanover Court House, May 27th, and 
returned to Mechanicsville. McClellan had placed his 
own headquarters not far from Franklin, at Gaines 
Mills. A small detachment of cavalry had reconnoi- 
tered through the White Oak Swamp and up the south 
bank of the Chickahominy to Seven Pines and the Fair 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Oaks Station, five or six miles from Eichmond, and had 
reported the ground clear of any considerable hostile 
force. On May 23d, four days prior to Porter's move- 
ment, Keyes, and later, the 25th, Heintzelman, had 
passed over Bottom's Bridge. 

McClellan did not like to have his principal sup- 
plies dependent on the York Eiver and the railway 
from the White House landing, and, further, he 
already meditated working over to the James Eiver to 
thus secure by the help of the navy a safer base and, 
as he thought, a better approach to Eichmond. He 
had now over 120,000 men, but his estimate of his en- 
emy on data obtained by his information bureau ex- 
ceeded that number, so very naturally he wanted on 
the spot McDowell's entire corps which had been prom- 
ised. With McDowell jDresent he could move his army 
so as to draw his supplies from the James at once. 
Without him and with instructions to cooperate with 
him, far off on his right, he could not do so. McClellan 
therefore sent only two corps over the Chickahominy 
instead of moving there with his whole force. This 
was called a river, but ordinarily it was no more than 
a creek with low banks, between which water and 
swamp varied in width from two to three hundred feet. 
McClellan and his officers deprecated this division of 
his army even by so small a river, but it appeared a 
necessity and they sought to make amends for it by 
building bridges. Sumner's corps built two, one of 
which was constructed of large logs by the Fifth New 
Hampshire of my brigade. General Sumner, seeing 
the water rising from the rains and hoping to hasten 
the work, gave the men a barrel of whisky — at the 
same time answering my objection to its use by saying : 
" Yes, general, you are right, but it is like pitch on fire 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

which gets speed out of an engine though it bums out 
the boiler." The two structures were named Sumner's 
upper and Sumner's lower bridge. Our engineers far- 
ther up, when the south bank had been seized by us, 
repaired the old bridges and threw across others till 
the Chickahominy appeared but a slight obstruction. 

On May 25th Casey's division of Keyes's corps 
moved forward to Seven Pines, a " crossroads " on 
the main pike from Williamsburg to Eichmond, where 
the "nine-mile road" comes from New Bridge into that 
highway. Keyes, being ordered to hold Fair Oaks 
Eailway station in advance of that position, moved 
again the 29th, placing Naglee's brigade in advance 
and bringing up Casey's other two brigades, Wessells's 
and Palmer's, in support, with pickets out in front 
of all. 

Here Casey's division, really too far forward for 
safety, fortified as well as it could with the time and 
implements at hand. 

Keyes at first intrenched his other division. 
Couch's, near Savage Station, but a little later brought 
it up to the vicinity of Seven Pines and there camped 
it as a second line to Casey facing toward Eichmond. 
Field works were being constructed to cover every ap- 
proach, particularly the nine-mile road, which, com- 
ing from the New Bridge, was joined by a road from 
Eichmond at the Old Tavern. Couch's division, as a 
reserved line, was arranged to hold the Seven Pines 
crossroads. His brigades were Peck's, Abercrom- 
bie's, and Devens's. The entire corps of Keyes on 
the ground did not exceed 12,000 men, who stretched 
forward for more than two miles and, though par- 
tially intrenched, were not within very easy sup- 
port of each other in case of attack by a larger force. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

On May 29th and 30th Confederate reconnoissances 
were made against Keyes's corps in order to ascertain 
the position and strength of our troops in that vicinity. 

Heintzelman,when he had crossed the river with his 
corps, had moved Hooker's division to the neighbor- 
hood of White Oak Swamp Bridge, three miles due 
south of Bottom's Bridge, and Kearny's division for- 
ward on the Richmond road about half as far, stop- 
ping it a little short of Savage Railway Station. 
Heintzelman in his own corps had for duty at the first 
symjDtoms of battle about 20,000 men. He was the 
ranking officer and in command of all the troops south 
of the Chickahominy. The Eighth Pennsylvania and 
part of the Eighth Illinois Cavalry were present to 
watch the flanks of Couch and Casey, but not able to 
do much in such a thickly wooded region. Casey evi- 
dently felt the weakness of his force, for when the Con- 
federate reconnoissance occurred on the 30th he sent 
at once to Keyes for help. Peck's brigade was placed 
on his left during that alarm. 

Now came during that night a most terrific storm; 
the rain fell in torrents and it was accompanied by 
high winds. It was difficult to keep our tents stand- 
ing and in that peculiarly soft soil the mud deepened 
and the discomforts were beyond description, so that 
the soldiers in every camp had little rest while the 
storm continued. The arms and ammunition were not 
improved by the pouring rain, though in these respects 
one side suffered no more than the other. But for 
some reason those who stand on the defensive are more 
subject to discouragement and apprehension than 
those who are in movement. 

General Johnston, the Confederate commander, 
had a few days before planned a combined attack 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

against our troops north of the Chickahominy, similar 
to that which the Confederates made a month later, 
but military reasons caused him to change his pur- 

After his reconnoissance of the 30th he was ready 
to strike on the south bank. The Chickahominy, dur- 
ing the fearful succession of storm bursts, had risen 
and spread rapidly over all the low ground till the 
stream had become a broad river. 

What could be more favorable to his plan? True, 
the Confederate artillery might be hindered by the 
water and soft soil, but seemingly Keyes's corps of the 
Union army was now isolated and Johnston had in 
hand five strong divisions. McClellan could reenforce 
but slowly from the north of the river, for already 
some of the bridges had been carried away and the 
others would not long be safe to cross. 

The Confederate order of attack was : Hill to con- 
centrate on the Williamsburg road and suddenly, vig- 
orously assail with his division Keyes in front ; Hill to 
be supported by Longstreet, who was to have the di- 
rection of all operations from the Williamsburg road 
to the Confederate right, and whose own division was 
to follow Hill ; Huger's division, starting early, was to 
move rapidly by the Charles City road, which was 
southward nearer the James Eiver, and come up in 
rear of Keyes's position. G. W. Smith with his own 
and McLane's divisions was intrusted with a double 
duty to serve as a general reserve and be ready to 
reenforce Longstreet down the nine-mile road, and 
also to watch the New Bridge and all other approaches 
of our corps from the Chickahominy. 

Longstreet, despairing of Huger's cooperation, 
about 12.30 p.m. ordered D. H. Hill to commence the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

assault. Hill's strong division sprang forward in the 
road and on both sides of it with lines far overlapping 
Casey's front. They crowded forward with slight 
skirmishing, and at first with but few pieces of artil- 
lery and with as little noise as possible, hoping for a 

The capture that morning of Lieutenant Washing- 
ton, one of Johnston's aids, in front of the Union line, 
and his conduct after capture had satisfied Casey that 
an attack from some direction was about to be made. 
After that, General Casey increased his diligence, 
striving to finish his redoubts and intrenchments and 
extend his abatis. Large numbers of men were work- 
ing with spades and axes when not long after noon 
two hostile shells cut the air and burst in their neigh- 
borhood. Thus Casey was warned and in a few min- 
utes his line of skirmishers, with a fresh regiment in 
immediate support, became engaged. 

The assault was so abrupt and overwhelming that 
but little resistance was made by those in advance of 
the main line. The pickets and regiment just sent 
forward, leaving the dead and badly wounded, were 
quickly swept away by their advancing enemy. They 
assailed the center and both wings and had sufficient 
numbers to whip around the flanks. 

When Casey found his unfinished trenches too 
weak and his fighting force too small to hold back Hill's 
brigades, his artillery and his musketry making but 
faint impression, he ordered a bayonet charge by four 
regiments. General Naglee led the charge and suc- 
ceeded in pressing all the Confederates in sight in the 
direct front back across the open space to the edge of 
the woods. That was, however, but a momentary res- 
pite; for from those woods Naglee's men received a 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

fire that they could not stand and quickly ran back to 
their intrenched lines. 

Many of Casey's troops being new levies, after they 
had once had their ranks broken, scattered off to the 
rear, falling back even beyond Couch's position. Still, 
most of them preserved a show of order and were sub- 
sequently brought up by their officers as far as Seven 
Pines to renew the struggle. 

Hill, while he attacked with three brigades in front, 
sent Eains with his brigade to work around Casey's 
left. He went under cover of the marshy forest, 
turned, and came up behind Casey's intrenchments. 
He thus had a large brigade enfilading our lines and 
pelting the backs of our soldiers. After losing heavily 
and inflicting a great loss upon his assailants Casey 
ordered the abandonment of that front. Our new regi- 
ments, which had fought hard till now, broke up badly 
in the retreat. A regiment from Peck's brigade, sent 
forward from the left of Couch, delayed Eains suffi- 
ciently to enable Casey's men to retire without de- 
struction. Casey passed Couch and gathered up all 
the remnants he could behind him at Seven Pines. 

The line of rifle pits in front of Seven Pines could 
not long be held by Couch's division — because Couch 
had first to reenforce Casey and then by the orders of 
his corps commander he was obliged to extend too 
much, even as far as he could reach along the nine- 
mile road. That line of three brigades, Abercrom- 
bie's, Devens's, and Peck's, crossed the railroad near 
Fair Oaks Station. The contest at Couch's new posi- 
tion was at times as fierce as at Casey's, and the line 
with little or no cover for the defenders was kept till 
after four o'clock. 

As soon as the assailants recovered their breath 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and were reasonably reorganized by their leaders, they 
made another vigorous push to complete the destruc- 
tion of Keyes's corps. 

While all this fury of battle was in progress — and 
over two hours of it had passed — by some extraor- 
dinary circumstance Heintzelman, whom McClellan 
looked to as the veritable commander of all the forces 
on the Richmond side of the Chickahominy and whose 
headquarters were near Savage Station, received no 
word of the hostile attack, until too late to help Casey. 
At last he was on his way battleward, storming at 
criminal stragglers and hurrying forward Kearny's 

With such a battlefield won, with much food, and 
eight captured cannon and hundreds of prisoners in 
hand, no wonder there was confidence and enthusiasm 
in Longstreet's ranks. General Johnston and G. W. 
Smith at their junction of roads on the Confederate 
left, had failed to hear the musketry till after 4 p.m., 
and were at last informed by a returning messenger. 
Then they moved straight on toward the battlefield. 
It was a time for a great success which might bring 
Confederate independence. 

Phil Kearny, following his instructions literally, 
sent Bimey's small brigade to the railway, which took 
post far back of the staggering line of battle. 

After Birney had gone Kearny heard of Casey's 
retreat and Couch's danger, and received Heintzel- 
man's order for the other brigade with him. Passing 
through throngs of fugitives he joined Berry at the 
head of the brigade on the Richmond road and urged 
the utmost haste. He also sent to Bottom's Bridge for 
Jameson's brigade left there as a guard. 

He now came up to Seven Pines with his head of 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

column in an incredibly short time. The impulsive 
Kearny found Keyes and Casey together. Couch was 
with Abercrombie over the railway toward the Chicka- 
hominy. Kearny quickly took in the situation; the 
zigzag rifle trench sheltering crowded men, and the 
open space in front, from beyond which the Confed- 
erate riflemen were firing from both the felled and 
standing timber. Kearny eagerly asked : " Where is 
your greatest need? " Casey, cheered by the new- 
comers, said : " Kearny, if you will regain our late 
camp the day will still be ours." Kearny just then 
had only the Third Michigan up. The men moved for- 
ward with alacrity; they ran over the open space into 
the timber and began a contest as determined as that 
of their foes, " heedless," said their general, " of the 
shell and ball that rained upon them." But even when 
Berry's three other regiments had joined the fiercely 
fighting line Kearny found that after all his prompt- 
ness he could effect but little. He gained some ground, 
then lost it, backing off in fairly good order toward 
the White Oak Swamp and Hooker, stoutly disput- 
ing the ground as he retired. 

About the time of Kearny's arrival. Hill's and 
Longstreet's divisions of Confederates with some re- 
enforcements from their reserves, having four brigade 
fronts abreast, stretching from the swamps of White 
Oak to and beyond Abercrombie at the railroad, more 
than a mile of breadth, came surging on with cheering 
and musketry, the charge made the more formidable 
by the rapid use of our captured cannon turned 
against our irregular masses herded together at Seven 

It did not take many minutes to break our very at- 
tenuated opposing lines. Couch saw the blackness of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the storm as it filled the air with fury and speed. Upon 
the break in what remained of his division he swmig 
off a few regiments of his right, including Abercrom- 
bie's brigade, till they were well north of the railroad 
and parallel to it, and then retired slowly toward Sum- 
ner's upper bridge. In the edge of the wood he made 
a firm stand to check any hostile advance in that direc- 
tion. As a thundercloud approaches, but stops at a 
river and passes harmlessly away, giving but a gentle 
sprinkling, so did this cloud of insurgents approach 
Couch and his men, touch the woods, and pass on along 
the railway beyond him. But this portion of Couch's 
division was thus hopelessly cut off from the rest of 
its corps. 

Meanwhile, Kearny, finding a safe road via the 
saw mill back of his line, hastened his men to the rear 
in that way till he reached the defenses at Savage Sta- 
tion which had been constructed originally by General 
Couch. To this strong place were gathered all the 
regiments of Keyes except Couch's detachment, and 
all of Heintzelman's corps including Hooker, now ar- 
rived from White Oak Swamp. 

Longstreet's forces, exhausted by six hours' fight- 
ing, could get no farther. But he knew that for him 
heavy reenforcements were at hand. Five fresh bri- 
gades were partly behind him and partly on his left, 
extending beyond the Fair Oaks railway station. 

As the fresh Confederate troops were coming on 
cheering and confident there came from their left 
front, toward the Chickahominy, a sudden check. 
Some guns of a Union battery opened a cross fire. It 
was not safe to ignore them and their support. Smith 
ordered them to be taken at once. Two Confederate 
brigades attempted that. Then others already some- 



The Battle of Fair Oaks 

what ahead turned back and joined in the attack. 
Smith became impatient. He went to the railroad to 
discover what was the matter. The firing grew worse. 
No such stubborn resistance should come from that 
quarter. While Smith, and later, Johnston, are exam- 
ining this flank interruption, I will explain its cause. 

Sumner's corps, we know, lay along the Chicka- 
hominy, opposite the battlefield. An order from Mc- 
Clellan restraining him from moving without permis- 
sion was received by Sumner that morning. We heard 
the first fitful sound from Casey's guns, and before one 
o'clock we knew that a hard battle was going on. Sum- 
ner at once asked, by telegraph, permission to cross 
the river. He walked up and down like a caged lion. 
McClellan first telegraphed him to be ready. He was 
ready. But to save delay he sent Sedgwick's division 
with three batteries to his upper bridge and our divi- 
sion to the lower. The order to cross came at last at 
2.30 P.M. As Sumner with Sedgwick approached, a 
part of the upper bridge rose with the water, starting 
to float off with the current. It was difficult to keep 
the green logs in place by ropes and withes; great 
cracks appeared. The engineer officer met Sumner 
and remonstrated: "General Sumner, you cannot cross 
this bridge ! " 

" Can't cross this bridge! I can, sir; I will, sir! " 

" Don't you see the approaches are breaking up and 
the logs displaced? It is impossible! " 

" Impossible ! Sir, I tell you I can cross. I am 

The orders had come and that ended the matter 
with Sumner. 

When men and horses were once on the bridge they 
pressed down the logs and accomplished the task more 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

easily than the engineer had believed possible. Be- 
yond the bridge the water was sometimes up to the 
thighs of Sedgwick's men. Our lower bridge was 
worse. As soon as French's brigade had crossed, the 
bridge began to break so much that Richardson turned 
my brigade, followed by Meagher's, to the upper one. 
The water was now deeper on the flats and the mud 
was well stirred up from the bottom. 

Kirby's battery of six light twelve-pounder smooth- 
bore brass guns, following Sedgwick's leading brigade, 
had found the road a veritable quagmire. By unlim- 
bering at times and using the prolonges, the cannon- 
eers being up to their waists in water, at 4.45 p.m. 
three pieces with one caisson were landed on harder 
ground and put in place for action. A little later came 
two or more, and the sixth gun was at last dragged out 
by an abundance of men. Our other batteries were too 
late for the action. 

Couch had sent to Sumner for help, and of his emo- 
tion, as he saw our troops approaching, he has made 
this record : " I felt that God was with us and victory 
ours ! " 

We found this command, four regiments and a bat- 
tery, astride a country road leading from Fair Oaks 
Station via Mr, Courtney's and Dr. Kent's houses to 
the meadow near our bridges, and holding on persist- 
ently against the fire of flankers of Smith's Confeder- 
ate colunm. Of Sedgwick's leading brigade under 
General Gorman, Sully's regiment, the First Minne- 
sota, went to the right to secure that flank and the 
other three to the left of Couch's line. Kirby's guns, 
as fast as they arrived, and two guns under Lieuten- 
ant Fagan, of a Pennsylvania battery on the ground, 
went into action at once, faciag toward Fair Oaks, 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

i. e., in front of the left of Couch's line with their own 
right at the corner of a grove; behind this grove 
Couch's infantry line extended. Sedgwick's second 
brigade, W. W. Burns in command, was formed in re- 
serve and the two regiments present of the third bri- 
gade. General Dana commanding, extended the front 
farther to the left from the flank of Gorman. 

Soon the firing was tremendous. This was the in- 
terruption — the check to the advance of the Confeder- 
ate left — which came to them so suddenly. Then there 
was a brief pause, when General Whiting with his own, 
Pettigrew's, and Hampton's brigades faced to the left 
and attacked our troops in line of battle from the nine- 
mile road. They advanced straight toward Sumner, 
firing as they came and shouting. 

Our infantry returned the fire in volleys, while the 
artillery discharges were continued with extraordi- 
nary rapidity and accuracy. This fearful fire stopped 
that first Confederate advance. 

Failing in the attempt directly upon the battery, the 
Confederates tried to reach it through the woods on its 
right. But limbers brought up ammunition from the 
caissons buried in the mud of the swamp and returned 
for more. Each discharge buried the guns, trails and 
all, to the axles in the soft soil. Yet, by the help of in- 
fantry men standing in rear, the pieces on the left of 
battery were carried forward and the front changed to 
the right to meet the Confederates' flank move as they 
emerged from the woods, and bring upon their front 
a tremendous fire of canister. 

At the same time the infantry on the left of the 
battery, under Sumner's personal direction, was ad- 
vanced, and charged the right of the Confederates as 
they came on. Two guns only could be soon enough 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

extricated from the mud to follow up the enemy's 

At the same time a fourth Confederate brigade, 
Hatton's, was put in, and in the woods advanced to 
within a few yards of the Union line, but made no im- 

Thus, all Smith's wing of the Confederate army 
that night within reach as reenforcements for Long- 
street, except Hood's brigade, was diverted, and in 
this engagement of an hour and a half lost 1,283 men, 
including the brigade commanders, Hampton and Pet- 
tigrew, seriously wounded; the latter was left uncon- 
scious on the field and captured, and General Hatton 

About sunset General Johnston himself was struck 
from his horse, severely wounded by a fragment of a 
shell, and carried from the field. The command of the 
entire Confederate army then devolved on General G. 
W. Smith ; the defeat of his troops by Sumner did not 
soften the responsibility of the morrow. 

Our change from the lower to the upper bridge and 
the difficulties of the march brought my brigade to the 
battlefield nearly two hours after Sumner's and Sedg- 
wick's timely arrival. 

As we approached the front a thick mist was set- 
ting in and a dark, cloudy sky was over our heads, so 
that it was not easy at twenty yards to distinguish a 
man from a horse. The heavy firing was over. As 
soon as Sedgwick's advance had pushed the enemy 
back beyond Fair Oaks Station, Lieutenant Nelson A. 
Miles, whom I had sent on ahead, returned from the 
battle, meeting me near the edge of a swampy opening 
over which the Confederates had charged and been 
swept back by the countercharge. 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

Miles, guiding us, remarked : " General, you had 
better dismount and lead your horses, for the dead and 
wounded are here." 

A peculiar feeling crept over me as I put my feet 
on the soft ground and followed the young officer. 
Some stretchers were in motion. A few friends were 
searching for faces they hoped not to find. There were 
cries of delirium, calls of the helpless, the silence of 
the slain, and the hum of distant voices in the ad- 
vancing brigade, with an intermittent rattle of mus- 
ketry, the neighing of horses, and the shriller pro- 
longed calls of the team mules, and soon the moving 
of lanterns guiding the bearers of the wounded to the 
busy surgeons : all these things made a weird impres- 
sion and a desire to be freed from following in the 
wake of the ravages of war. 

I remember that the call of one poor fellow was in- 
sistent. He repeatedly cried : " Oh, sir ! Kind sir ! 
Come to me ! " I walked over to where he lay and 
asked : " Wliat regiment do you belong to ? " 

He answered : " The Fifth Mississippi." 

I then said: " What do you want? " 

He replied ; " Oh, I am cold ! " 

I knew it was from the approach of death, but no- 
ticing that he had a blanket over him I said: "You 
have a good warm blanket over you." 

He looked toward it and said gently : " Yes, some 
kind gentleman from Massachusetts spread his blanket 
over me, but, sir, I'm still cold." 

A Massachusetts soldier had given his only blanket 
to a wounded man — a wounded enemy. 

We silently passed on to our allotted lines. I 
pondered over my instructions, prepared orders for 
others, and then, with mingled hope and apprehension 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and conscious trust in God, lay down to dream of 
home. Only one of my regiments (the Fifth New 
Hampshire) was called to the front that evening. The 
Confederate and Union men were so mixed up by the 
conflict at dark that they often during the night un- 
wittingly walked into the wrong camp. It had been 
a costly day to us, but the left wing of our army was 
not destroyed, and the Confederate casualties were as 
many as ours. We waited for the morrow to renew 
the strife, believing that we had come to a decisive bat- 
tle, maybe the last great struggle of the war. 

The sudden check by Sumner and the desperate 
wounds of Johnston had produced an astounding ef- 
fect upon the Confederates. At 4 p.m. they were con- 
fident, jubilant; at dark they had lost their head and 
confusion reigned. 

General Smith, regarding the morrow, directed 
General Longstreet to push his successes of the pre- 
vious day as far as practicable, pivoting his movement 
upon the position of General Whiting on his left. 
AVhiting was to make a diversion, and in extreme case 
to hold at all hazards the junction of the New Bridge 
and nine-mile road. 

That point was so far back that Smith's orders 
practically meant that Longstreet alone was to finish 
the battle. Longstreet, though reenforced, had a hard 
task, especially under his pivotal orders. He did not 
and could not do else but hold on a while and finally 

On the morning of June 1st matters had shaped 
themselves fairly well for us. From right to left in a 
bend, concave toward Smith and Longstreet, were the 
divisions of Sedgwick, Eichardson, Kearny, and 
Hooker. Sumner's troops were at the extreme right, 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

parallel to the nme-mile road. The Union line then 
ran along the railway, and finally crossing the railway 
and turnpike it continued on by the strong works near 
Savage Station to White Oak Swamp. 

Of our division, on Sedgwick's left, French's bri- 
gade of four regiments was the front line, my Fifth 
New Hampshire still covering the whole front as a 
picket guard. The remainder of my brigade (the 
Sixty-fourth New York, Colonel Parker; Sixty-first 
New York, Colonel Barlow ; and the Eighty-first Penn- 
sylvania, Colonel Miller) formed a second line a few 
hundred yards back. 

General Meagher's brigade of three regiments 
made a third line, and Hazzard's, Frank's, and Petit's 
batteries, belonging to the division, were located on 
convenient knolls near the front. Thus at dawn we 
stood ready for work. 

As soon as it was light the Fifth New Hampshire, 
imder Colonel Cross, advanced slowly till it had seized 
the woods beyond the railroad near Fair Oaks Station. 
Hazzard quickly found a favorable place for the bat- 
teries, whence by a cross fire he commanded all the 
open spaces, over which the enemy would have to ap- 
proach us. The guns and battery men were shielded 
by epaulements hurriedly thrown up. 

The first noisy collision of this Sunday morning 
was about five o'clock; it became a smart reveille to 
all; first, a brisk skirmish, a few bullets whizzing 
through the tree tops. Colonel Cross had every man 
ready. The artillery officers with good field glasses 
were watching. There was always a strange thrill of 
interest at such a time. The movement was, however, 
only a Confederate reconnoissance. The reconnoiter- 
ers were hunting for the Fair Oaks Eailroad Station, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

which, unknown to them, had changed occupants. For 
a brief period their cavalry and infantry showed in the 
openings along our front, but everywhere found them- 
selves met by Cross's skirmishers, whose steady firing, 
supported by the rapid cross fire of our batteries, 
drove them beyond range. 

This event increased our caution. Too long an in- 
terval between French and Birney, of Kearny's divi- 
sion, was reported — only pickets connecting. French 
then gained ground to the left, thinning his ranks and 
taking greater distance from Sedgwick. Still he could 
not reach far enough, so by Richardson's order I sent 
Colonel Miller with the Eighty-first Pennsylvania. 
Miller promptly deployed his men and moved for- 
ward till abreast of Colonel Brooke, who commanded 
French's left regiment. The reason for not connecting 
with Birney' s brigade, now under command of Colonel 
Ward, was that it was much farther back from the 
enemy than French expected to find it, and the under- 
brush was too thick to see very far. 

Sumner was now the senior officer south of the 
Chickahominy, but in command of his own corps only, 
and Heintzelman commanded his part of the line. The 
commander of the whole battle was McClellan at his 
headquarters several miles away. The day's work re- 
sulted in spasmodic activities at several points of our 
front, and no general aggressive movement even after 
the Confederate partial attacks had been repulsed. 

The Fifth New Hampshire was relieved from the 
skirmish line and placed in reserve. There were but 
a few minutes to wait. Upon French's left front there 
came a Confederate attack with two deployed brigade 
fronts, Armstead's and Pickett's. They moved at a 
quick walk and, owing to prevalence of the woodland, 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

drew wonderfully near before tliey were discovered. 
Along the whole of our front line they opened a heavy 
rolling fire of musketry within fifty yards. French's 
men instantly returned the fire, and the contest for 
over an hour was as severe as any in the war. 

At this time Miller, of my brigade, who, as we have 
seen, was to the left of French, saw through the trees 
the coming troops. He gave the word " Ready! " when 
some officer near him said : " No, no, colonel, they are 
our men ! " Probably thinking them detached from 
Ward, Miller in his strong voice commanded : " Re- 
cover arms ! " and called out : " Wlio are you? " They 
cried : " Virginians ! " and instantly fired a volley 
which killed Colonel Miller and so many of his men 
that the regiment lost its continuity. A captain, Rob- 
ert M. Lee, Jr., sprang upon a stump near at hand 
and rallied six companies. At once I sent Lieutenant 
N. A. Miles to look up the other four. He soon found 
them and brought them together at the railroad where 
there was an open space, and then led them again 
into action. 

It was at this period of the conflict that Richardson 
sent to me to fill the interval made worse by the loss 
of Miller. I brought the two regiments into line at the 
railroad — the Sixty-first on the right and the Sixty- 
fourth to its left. 

Just as we were ready to advance, the enemy's fire 
began to meet us, cutting through the trees. My brown 
horse was wounded through the shoulder, and I had 
to dismount and wait for another. Turning toward 
the men, I saw that some had been hit and others were 
leaving their ranks. This was their first experience 
under fire. I cried out with all my might : " Lie 
down ! " Every man dropped to the ground ; then my 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

staff and the field officers aided me in sheltering the 
men by forming line behind the railroad embankment, 
but we could not fire yet without the danger of pouring 
shot into French's line. 

In five minutes I had mounted my large gray 
horse, my brother riding my third and only other one, 
a beautiful " zebra." In order to encourage the men 
in a forward movement I placed myself, mounted, in 
front of the Sixty-fourth New York, and my aid. Lieu- 
tenant Charles H. Howard, in front of the Sixty-first. 
Every officer was directed to repeat each command. I 
ordered : " Forward ! " and then " March ! " I could 
hear the echo of these words and, as I started, the 
Sixty-fourth followed me with a glad shout up the 
slope and through the woods ; the Sixty-first followed 
my brother at the same time. We moved forward 
finely, taking many prisoners as we went and gaining 
ground leftward, until we came abreast of French's 

Before reaching French's line I was wounded 
through the right forearm by a small Mississippi rifle 
ball. Liercenant Howard just then ran to me on foot 
and said that the zebra horse was killed. He took a 
handkerchief, bound up my arm, and then ran back to 
the Sixty-first. 

As the impulse was favorable to a charge I decided 
to go on farther, and, asking Brooke's regiment on 
French's left to lie down, called again : " Forward ! " 
And on we went, pushing back the enemy and breaking 
through his nearest line. We pressed our way over 
uneven ground to the neighborhood of the crossroads 
at Seven Pines, where our men the day before had left 
their tents standing. Behind those tents was found 
a stronger force of Confederates, kneeling and firing. 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

We approached within thirty or forty yards and, halt- 
ing on as favorable ground as possible, promptly and 
efficiently returned their fire. 

When at last we halted near the standing tents and 
I had passed to the rear of the line which was rapidly 
firing, my gray had his left foreleg broken and, though 
I was not then aware of it, I had been wounded again, 
my right elbow having been shattered by a rifle shot. 
Lieutenant Howard was missing. 

Lieutenant William Mclntyre, of the Sixty-fourth, 
seeing the condition of my horse, seized me, and put 
me in a sheltered place on the ground. I heard him 
say : " General, you shall not be killed." Mclntyre 
himself was slain near that spot, giving his life for 
mine. The bullets were just then raining upon our 
men, who without flinching were firing back. As a 
faintness warned me, I called to Colonel Barlow, who 
was not far away, to take command. He answered me 
in a clear, cool voice : " Shall I take command of the 
whole brigade, sir ? " I replied : " No, only of this por- 
tion." It would have broken Cross's heart to have for- 
gotten even at such a time his seniority, and the colo- 
nel of the Sixty-fourth was also Barlow's senior, but 
he had failed in the necessary physical strength that 

Barlow took command and stood his ground until 
Brooke, to whom I spoke on my way to the rear, 
brought up his line. After a little further conflict in 
that vicinity the Confederates gave way and along our 
division front the victory was complete. 

Meanwhile, to the eastward the enemy passing 
through the thickets beyond my left flank crossed the 
railroad, encountering only such slight opposition as 
the remnants of the Eighty-first Pennsylvania under 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Lee and Miles could administer, caught sight of the 
right of Ward's brigade and opened upon them a brisk 
fusillade. Ward threw back the right of my old regi- 
ment, the Third Maine, and moved his other regiments 
so as to come forward in echelon. He began by firing 
volleys, then inclining more to the right charged furi- 
ously. This was done at the same time Lieutenant 
Howard and I were leading our two regiments into 
the melee. Ward's vigorous onset cleared that im- 
portant quarter of the pressing enemy. 

To the left of Ward came Hooker, his front making 
a right angle with the railroad. He was ready for his 
part. His advance on account of thickets and swamps 
was slow but positive. 

Thus our division and portions of two others were 
brought into the Sunday battle. Finally, from the 
right of Eichardson to the left of Hooker had been 
made a general advance, and the whole obscure and 
dreadful field of both days compassed by our men. 
Why was not that Confederate retreat followed up 
and the fruits of victory secured? After weighing with 
care the many reasons which our commanding general 
has left recorded for not at this time pushing forward 
his whole strength, I still think that his headquarters 
were too far away, and that just then and there he 
lost a great opportunity. 

General French's medical director. Surgeon Gabriel 
Grant, close up to the troops, was operating under fire ^ 
beside a large stump. He there bound up my arm. I 
found my brother shot through the thigh, just able 
to limp along by using his empty scabbard for a cane. 
He had a fox-skin robe, which had been on his saddle, 
thrown across his free arm. 

1 For this, Dr. G. Grant received the Congress Medal of Honor. 


The Battle of Fair Oaks 

" Why weary yourself, Charlie, with that robe? " I 

" To cover me up if I should have to stop," he smil- 
ingly answered. 

Dr. Grant dressed his leg and provided him with a 
stretcher. I preferred to walk. En route I encoun- 
tered a soldier among the wounded with his fingers 
broken and bleeding. He cried out with pain. Seeing 
me he drew near with sympathy. " You are worse 
off than I," he said, and putting his arm around me 
he let me share his strength. We wounded wanderers 
at last found Courtney's house, a half mile or more 
north of the Fair Oaks Station. 

Dr. Hammond, my personal friend, met me near 
the house, saw the blood, touched my arm, and said 
with feeling : " General, your arm is broken." The last 
ball had passed through the elbow joint and crushed 
the bones into small fragments. He led me to a negro 
hut, large enough only for a double bed. Here I lay 
down, alarming an aged negro couple who feared at 
first that some of us might discover and seize hidden 
treasure which was in that bed. 

My brigade surgeon. Dr. Palmer, and several 
others soon stood by my bedside in consultation. At 
last Dr. Palmer, with serious face, kindly told me that 
my arm had better come off. " All right, go ahead," I 
said. " Happy to lose only my arm." 

" Not before 5 p.m., general." 

"Why not?" 

" Eeaction must set in." 

So I had to wait six hours. I had received the sec- 
ond wound about half -past ten. I had reached the 
Courtney house about eleven, and in some weakness 
and discomfort occupied the negro cabin till the hour 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

appointed. At that time Dr. Palmer came with four 
stout soldiers and a significant stretcher. They placed 
me thereon, and the doctor put around the arm close 
to the shoulder the tourniquet, screwing it tighter and 
tighter above the wound. They then bore me to the 
amputating room, a place a little grewsome withal 
from arms, legs, and hands not yet all carried off, and 
poor fellows with anxious eyes waiting their turn. 

On the long table I was nicely bolstered ; Dr. Grant, 
who had come from the front, relieved the too-tight 
tourniquet. A mixture of chloroform and gas was ad- 
ministered and I slept quietly. Dr. Palmer amputated 
the arm above the elbow. "When I awoke I was sur- 
prised to find the heavy burden was gone, but was con- 
tent and thankful. 





rilHE next morning, June 2, 1862, my brother and I 
-■- set out on leave with surgeon's certificate of dis- 
ability. To Fair Oaks Station I rode beside the driver 
of the ambulance, while Lieutenant Howard, Capt. 
A. P. Fisk, and others reclined inside. 

At the station I had hardly reached the ground 
when General Philip Kearny rode up with his staff. 
They dismounted and stood near us, while Kearny and 
I grasped hands. He had lost his left arm in Mexico. 
To console me he said in a gentle voice : " General, I 
am sorry for you ; but you must not mind it ; the ladies 
will not think the less of you ! " I laughed as I glanced 
at our two hands of the same size and replied : " There 
is one thing that we can do, general, we can buy our 
gloves together ! " 

He answered, with a smile : " Sure enough ! " But 
we did not, for I never met him again. He was killed 
at Chantilly. That evening I was near by but did not 
see him. 

All the passengers in our freight car, which left 
Fair Oaks for the White House landing that day, save 
Captain F. D. Sewall, my adjutant general, were suf- 
fering from wounds. Some were standing, some sit- 
ting, but the majority were lying or reclining upon 
straw which covered the floor of the car. From one of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the latter I received a pleasant smile and a word of 
recognition. It was Capt. A. P. Fisk, the adjutant 
general of French's brigade, who greeted me. His sur- 
geon, having examined his most painful wound near 
the knee joint, at first feared to leave his leg unampu- 
tated, but the captain and he finally decided to take 
the risk. Every tilt or jar of the rough car gave him 
intense pain; still his cheerfulness, showing itself 
in sprightly conversation, never forsook him. He also 
constantly cheered others around him who were 
gloomy and despondent. 

The roadbed was in bad condition and the freight 
peculiarly sensitive, so that from compassion the con- 
ductor moved us at a snail's pace. With pain from 
bruised nerves and loss of blood I found it difficult to 
endure the shaking of the car and be as cheery as my 
brother and Captain Fisk. The trial lasted three hours, 
and I was glad enough to catch a glimpse of the 
steamer Nelly Baker, which was to transport us from 
the White House landing down the York River. It 
took but a few minutes to get us on board. Here were 
plenty of medicines and other supplies. Three or four 
ladies, serving as nurses, gave the wounded men their 
quick attention and care. 

As soon as I could get ink and pen, I made my first 
effort at writing with my left hand. The letter is still 
preserved and fairly legible, the letters having the 
backward slant. To this is added Lieutenant How- 
ard's postscript, which ends : " There is for me only a 
flesh wound in the thigh." 

Only a flesh wound, it is true ; but so severe as to 
necessitate the use of a stretcher to carry him from 
place to place. It was a more troublesome wound than 
mine and required more time for healing. 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

Twelve years before, while a cadet at West Point, 
I had had a severe wound in the head, made by a fall 
while exercising in the gymnasium; a hard attack of 
erysipelas followed. Surgeon Cuyler, of Georgia, at- 
tended me there. No mother could have been more 
faithful and gentle than he during the period of my 
suffering. The same good physician, as we neared 
Fortress Monroe, came on board our steamer, dressed 
our wounds, and prescribed a proper diet. He begged 
my brother and myself to remain with him until we 
were stronger, but the home fever had seized me and 
nothing short of compulsion could then detain us. 

Several little children were playing about the 
steamer and now and then dodged in and out of the 
room where the wounded officers were sitting. When I 
noticed them, they began their happy play with me. 
The nurses, fearing injury, endeavored to remove them, 
but the other wounded joined me in a protest. It was 
a great comfort to be not only rid of the scenes of 
carnage but able to mingle again with the joys of child- 
hood. Many there knew that their own little ones were 
waiting hopefully, though anxiously, for their return. 

We had a rough experience after our arrival in 
Baltimore. Thrust into a hack, the lieutenant and I 
were driven swiftly two or three miles over the cobble- 
stones from the wharf to the railroad station. In 
great distress I clung to the side of the carriage, made 
springs of my knees, and thus found a little relief from 
the jar. My brother could get no such respite, so the 
agony he endured was excessive. 

On our arrival in New York, Wednesday afternoon, 
we were taken directly to the Astor House, consider- 
ably exhausted and remained a night and a day. We 
received the most motherly attention from Mrs. Stet- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

son, the wife of the proprietor. Would that every 
bruised soldier had fallen into such kind hands ! 

From New York we went directly to Lewiston, 
Me., meeting on the steamer and the cars, in the cities 
and villages wherever we passed, every demonstration 
of sympathy and affection. Our condition suggested 
to other hearts what had happened or might happen 
to some beloved relative or friend still on the field of 

At last, arriving at Lewiston station, the whole 
population appeared to have turned out to greet us. 
We were not suffered to cross the river into Auburn, 
and meet my little family after more than a year's 
separation, till words of welcome and appreciation had 
been spoken and acknowledged. Then the desired re- 
lief from such patriotic love came and we hastened to 
the hotel in Auburn where my wife and children were. 

Sweet, indeed, was the rest of a few subsequent 
days when we enjoyed the nursing and comforts of 

My confinement to my room was brief — not over 
three days. Ten days after our arrival, accompanied 
by my friend Dr. Wiggin, later a surgeon in the 
Twenty-first Maine, I visited Portland and partici- 
pated in a State religious convention, where I gave 
two public addresses. 

After speaking in Livermore on July 4th, in de- 
scending a flight of steps I slipped and fell. I tried to 
catch support with the hand which did not exist and 
so thrust the stump of my amputated arm into the 
ground, making the hurt from the fall very severe; it 
would have been worse, except for a sole-leather pro- 
tection. I felt for my comrades on the peninsula who 
were worse wounded and suffering. For I had sym- 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

pathy, tender nursing, and gentle voices at hand, and 
they often had not. 

The people in Maine were restless and anxious. 
What has the army effected? What does it purpose to 
do? When will this dreadful war end? Is McClellan 
the man for us? These were the questions that met me 
at the convention. At that time I warmly espoused the 
cause of McClellan and resented every criticism as an 
aspersion. I entertained and expressed the strong 
hope that he would yet lead us to victory. At the same 
time I fully believed that slavery must go to the wall 
before the end. 

The speeches which I made at that large Portland 
meeting were the beginning of a canvass of Maine for 
filling the State quota of volunteers. Governor Wash- 
burn entreated me to aid him in this matter, as the en- 
listments just then were too slow to supply the men 
who were needed. I went over the State, my wife 
going with me, visited the principal cities and villages, 
and often made two addresses a day, urging my coun- 
trymen to fill up the ranks. My speech in substance 
was : " Our fathers, with their blood, procured for us 
this beautiful heritage. Men now seek to destroy it. 
Come, fellow citizens, regardless of party, go back with 
me and fight for its preservation." 

The quota of Maine was filled, and after an absence 
of two months and twenty days I returned to the field 
in time to participate in the closing operations of the 
second Bull Run campaign. 

Military affairs during the summer of 1862, par- 
ticularly the second battle of Bull Run, fought August 
29th and 30th, excited virulent controversies which 
only subsided with the death of the participants. The 
ferment was by no means confined to the field. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

By the help of his secret service bureau and his 
own strong will, Mr. Stanton, the Secretary of War, 
from the time he took the department, began to turn 
and overturn with a view to eliminate every disloyal 
element. As the abolition sentiment, constantly grow- 
ing in the country, was evidently beginning to domi- 
nate public affairs, Mr. Stanton, penetrated with new 
convictions, hastened to leadership. We need only to 
follow him in the Cabinet, in Congress, in the commit- 
tees of inquiry, and in every branch of military admin- 
istration to account for a disturbing influence which 
had for some time been perceptible in military opera- 
tions. This influence, more than Mr. Lincoln's appre- 
hensions, kept up small armies, as Wadsworth's in 
defense of Washington, Fremont's toward the Ohio, 
Banks's and Shields's in the valley, and McDowell's at 
Fredericksburg — a division of forces that resulted in 
the defeat of them all, and perhaps, as McClellan 
claimed, in his own discomfiture on the peninsula. 
McClellan's Seven Days' Battles, in which he had re- 
pulsed the enemy each time, and yet changed his base 
to the James Eiver, and his final retreat, all took place 
while I was absent from the army. 

The administration now made a shift of policy. 
John Pope was brought from the Mississippi Valley 
and made the peer of McClellan, commanding all the 
armies above named except his. Halleck, under whom 
Grant, Pope, and others had won laurels in the Missis- 
sippi Valley, was called to Washington and assigned 
to duty as general-in-chief. 

After this, Abraham Lincoln, endeavoring to fol- 
low, not lead, a changing public conviction, often low- 
ered his head under the weight of heavy care. Once 
he said in his peculiar humorous sadness, when a case 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

of plain justice to a soldier was hindered at the War 
Department : " We'll try ; but, you see, I haven't much 
influence with this administration ! " 

He many times, however, took control when he was 
convinced that he ought to act. 

After reaching Harrison's Landing, McClellan en- 
treated to remain there, be reenforced, and go back 
again toward Eichmond. The President at first fa- 
vored this course. Pope, on his arrival from the West, 
had strongly opposed the change of base to the James. 
He predicted that every chance of mutual support 
would thus be lost to our Eastern armies. Concerning 
the Confederates, he said : " The loss of Richmond 
would be trifling, while the loss of Washington to us 
would be conclusive or nearly so in its results on this 
war ! " This was before the Seven Days battling. 
After the retreat. Pope was more courteous to Mc- 
Clellan. He wrote him, seeking concert of action, and 
promised to carry out his wishes with all the means at 
his command. 

It was a touch of human nature for McClellan to 
reply with reserve and some coldness; partisanship 
pro and con ran high at that time. 

Halleck came to Washington ostensibly to make the 
Eastern armies cease maneuvering and fight. He de- 
termined that Pope should begin direct operations 
against Richmond ; that McClellan, when brought back 
by water from the peninsula, should strongly reenforce 
him. Pope was to be bold, so as to free McClellan from 
pressure, and enable Tiim to speedily transport his 
army to the Potomac. This McClellan did. 

Pope promptly concentrated, bringing Fremont's 
army under Franz Sigel to Sperryville, Ricketts's di- 
vision of McDowell's corps to Waterloo Bridge, and 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Banks's command to Little Washington. His cavalry 
under General Hatch was kept well out toward the 
Rapidan. Pope's aggregate was then about 40,000 and 
well located for his undertaking. 

Hearing that Stonewall Jackson was already cross- 
ing the Rapidan at different points, Pope ordered 
everything he could get to Culpeper. He would have 
hastened his army to the foothills of the Bull Run 
Range, that he might make a descent upon his foe, 
choosing his own time, but his orders from Halleck 
obliged him to protect the lower fords of the Rappa- 
hannock. Halleck thus insisted on his covering two hx- 
dependent bases : Falmouth, opposite Fredericksburg, 
and also Washington. It was a grave mistake. Pope's 
order of the 7th to Sigel to join him at once was not 
immediately obeyed. Pope says : " To my surprise I 
received, after night on the 8th, a note from General 
Sigel dated at Sperryville at half-past six o'clock 
that afternoon, asking me by what road he could 
march to Culpeper. As there was but one road, and 
that a broad stone turnpike, I was at a loss to under- 
stand how Sigel could entertain any doubt as to his 
road." Because of Sigel's delay Pope did not have his 
corps for the next day's battle. Another annoyance 
rufiQed his temper. He sent Banks forward toward 
Cedar Mountain with all his force to join his own re- 
tiring cavalry and check the advancing foe. Banks 
was ordered to halt in a strong position designated, 
and send out his skirmish line and notify Pope. Rick- 
etts's division was put at a crossroad in rear of Banks, 
with a view to help him in case of need. 

But, strange to say, Banks, on approach of Stone- 
wall Jackson, left his strong position, advanced two 
miles, and assailed the Confederates in a vigorous 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

maimer. He had to cross open fields and was obliged 
to attack Jackson, who was just moving into a fine po- 
sition for defense. The terrible struggle that resulted 
continued for an hour and a half. Against Jackson's 
leading divisions Banks was successful; but A. P. 
Hill's arriving drove Banks's men back little by little 
to the strong position which he had left. Eicketts's 
troops, ordered up by Pope, were only in time to pre- 
vent a retreat. Banks's defense was that a staff offi- 
cer of General Pope had brought him subsequent in- 
structions to attack at once as soon as the enemy came 
in sight. Pope's loss in this battle of Cedar Moun- 
tain was heavy : 1,759 killed and wounded, 622 missing. 
The Confederates' total loss was 1,314. Jackson gained 
a victory, though not as complete as he had hoped. 
Without renewing the conflict, he backed off slowly to 
the Kapidan. Jackson's advance had been for the pur- 
pose of defeating the portion of Pope's army reported 
isolated at Culpeper Court House. 

A few days after this battle, Lee discovered our 
transports running from the James to Aquia Creek. 
Burnside with his command back from North Carolina 
was already at Fredericksburg. 

Lee organized his troops into two wings — Long- 
street to command the right, Jackson the left, and 
Stuart the cavalry, Lee himself taking the field in per- 
son. This force numbered between fifty and sixty 
thousand. Lee moved toward Pope, at first directly. 
Pope now had all of McDowell's corps and part of 
Bumside's. The rest of the latter was retained to 
guard the lower fords of the Rappahannock. 

As soon as Lee began to advance in earnest. Pope 
drew back to the north side of the Eappahannock, 
placing Banks to keep his center near the railroad 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

crossing. McDowell was designated to hold the left and 
lower crossings, and Sigel the right and upper, while 
the active cavalry now under Buford and Bayard took 
care of Pope's extreme right flank. 

After a few skirmishes Lee began a turning opera- 
tion. On August 22d, the day I reached Philadelphia 
on my way back to the army, Lee sent Stonewall Jack- 
son, preceded by Stuart's cavalry, up the Rappahan- 
nock as far as Sulphur Springs, well beyond Pope's 
power to defend. Lee then, with Longstreet, followed 

In the face of this strategic move, Pope decided to 
retire from the Rappahannock, but Halleck interposed 
and directed Pope to stay where he was two days 
longer and he would take care of his right, for was 
not McClellan's army coming in its strength? There 
was, fortunately for Pope, an unexpected help. Early's 
brigade only had crossed the river when a storm struck 
that up-country. The mountain streams poured in so 
rapidly that all fords were rendered unsafe and all 
bridges carried away. 

Next, Pope aimed a blow at Early, Jackson's ad- 
vance; but swollen streams delayed his eager march, 
so that Early, by Jackson's help, made a rough bridge 
and got back before the blow fell. 

Lee gained some advantage during that freshet ; he 
kept most of his troops quiet, cool, and resting, know- 
ing that the streams in twenty-four hours would run 
down and be fordable. 

Had Halleck allowed Pope to retire at once behind 
Warrenton, to meet there the reenforcements from 
McClellan, the problem of the campaign would have 
been of easier solution. But Lee's next move gave a 
sad lesson to Halleck. First came another of Stuart's 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

raids. On August 23d, when I reached Washington, 
his cavalry was close by at Catlett's Station and our 
communications with Pope cut off. Stuart captured 
provisions, and carried off Pope's important orders. 
He then returned to Lee, the way he had come, with 
the detail of our plans in his possession. Lee acted 
quickly, making a bold move like that of Grant at 
Vicksburg, having on the face of it but few reasons in 
its favor. He ordered Stonewall Jackson, on August 
25th, to cross the Eappahannock above Waterloo; 
move around Pope's right flank; strike the railroad in 
the rear ; while Longstreet must divert his attention in 
front and be ready to follow. 

Jackson made the march with great celerity, Stuart 
ahead and working his way to Gainesville, on the Ma- 
nassas Gap railroad, and keeping the eyes of our cav- 
alry upon himself. Jackson was at Salem the first 
night, and, bursting through Thoroughfare Gap, 
joined Stuart, and appeared on our railroad at Bristoe 
Station just after dark the next day. Without consid- 
ering the fatigue of his troops, that night he sent 
Trimble's brigade with cavalry, ten miles up the rail- 
road, to seize Manassas Junction. Very early the next 
morning Jackson himself was there with everything 
except Ewell's division — left at Bristoe for a guard 
against a rebound from any Union force below. The 
Manassas garrison, abundance of artillery, small arms, 
ammunition, and quantities of food fell at once into 
his hands. Our railroad guards and a Union brigade 
were driven back toward Alexandria, and Stuart's 
force continued on even to Burke's Station. 

While Jackson thus delayed near Manassas, feast- 
ing on captured stores and destroying what he could 
not carry away, Ewell, at Bristoe, was not having so 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

comfortable work. For Heintzelman's, with Hooker's 
and Kearny's divisions, coming from McClellan be- 
fore Jackson's arrival at Bristoe, had passed beyond 
there by rail ; and on the evening of the 25th they had 
been dumped down at Warrenton Junction. Porter's 
corps, too, marching west from Aquia Creek, was ap- 
proaching the same point. 

The instant Pope had found Jackson in his rear 
and upon his communications he turned his whole 
command north. His left, under McDowell, he sent to 
Gainesville; his center, under Heintzelman, to Green- 
wich, a few miles south of Gainesville, while he him- 
self, leaving Hooker in command of the right, rushed 
on to reestablish his connections with Washington. 
Sigel's corps was attached to McDowell, while Eeno 
replaced Hooker with Heintzelman. That arrange- 
ment made Porter's approaching corps a strong 

The afternoon of August 27th Hooker came upon 
Ewell's division at Bristoe. On sight, these veterans — 
veterans on both sides — had a sharp battle. Ewell was 
dislodged with a loss of 300 men and some of his 
materiel. But as he retired northward he burned the 
bridge over Broad Run and tore up the railroad track. 
While Hooker's men were restoring the bridge, Ewell 
made a rapid march and joined Jackson at Manassas. 

In spite of the confusion here and there and the 
anxiety at Washington on the evening of August 27th 
matters could have hardly been better for Pope. 
There was the best ground for belief at his headquar- 
ters that Jackson and Longstreet were far asunder, 
and that Pope with at least 50,000 men would fall upon 
Jackson and defeat him. 

Pope's sanguine heart was filled with joy at that 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

prospect. But how soon the change ! The night of the 
27th news came that A. P. Hill's division and part of 
Jackson's wing had got north of Centreville, and that 
Stuart had gone from Burke's Station also north to 
Fairfax Court House; true, Jackson himself with a 
few troops lingered at Manassas, but Pope believed 
that his adversary would try to escape him by pass- 
ing over the mountains at Aldie Gap and turn back in 
the great valley beyond to join Longstreet. That was 
not, however, Jackson's purpose, but Pope under this 
misconception rashly issued a new set of orders. 

With his Manassas force Jackson quickly moved to 
a strong position several miles west of Centreville, 
slightly north of Groveton. He placed his men behind 
a railroad cut; his line faced south and stretched off 
eastward to our old Sudley Spring crossing of Bull 
Eun. How easy now for A. P. Hill to dillydally about 
Centreville, till our forces should rush that way via 
Manassas and touch his outposts, and then slip off via 
the upper crossings of Bull Eun, and close in on Jack- 
son in his new position. That ruse showed Jackson's 
generalship. He was adroitly giving Lee and Long- 
street time to get near him before battle. 

Phil Kearny's division, passing to the north of 
Manassas, soon skirmished with A. P. Hill's rear 
guard, while the latter was drawing oif toward Sudley 
Springs and Jackson. Naturally, Kearny was not able 
to bring him to battle. King's division, of McDow- 
ell's corps, coming toward Centreville from Gaines- 
ville along the Warrenton Pike, unexpectedly encoun- 
tered just at evening Confederate troops. A combat 
resulted. Gibbon's brigade, of King's division, sup- 
ported by Doubleday's, with remarkable persistency 
resisted these assailants, the Confederates at once 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

having attacked this intruding division. There was 
heavy loss on both sides. Ewell and Taliaferro were 
badly wounded, the former losing a leg. King's com- 
mand remained two hours after the conflict and then 
went to Manassas. The end of this remarkable day 
found Pope with his headquarters at Centreville. He 
now saw plainly that he had been outgeneraled, having 
misinterpreted Jackson's purpose; in fact, he had 
helped Stonewall Jackson to concentrate his brigades, 
where Longstreet might join him. 

Now, for Pope to get back his army from Centre- 
ville, from Manassas, and from wherever the night of 
the 28th found his hurrying troops, was not easy. It 
caused, indeed, much countermarching. Many men, 
short of food and ammunition and overfatigued with 
going from place to place on errands which they did 
not understand, had become discouraged. 

But Pope resolutely gave new orders : the morning 
of August 29th, Heintzelman was turned again west- 
ward from Centreville; he led three divisions under 
Hooker, Kearny, and Eeno toward Gainesville. Sigel's 
corps, on the Sudley road, south of Groveton, was 
faced northward and pushed forward toward Stone- 
wall Jackson. McDowell with King's and Eicketts's 
divisions and Porter's corps was also ordered to come 
up to the left of Sigel. 

Sigel deployed his troops as early as 5 a.m. and 
moved carefully and steadily forward. Soon a stub- 
born resistance came from Jackson's chosen position. 
It was a hard battle that day, begun differently from 
the first battle of Bull Eun, but not far from that 
point. Sigel put in the divisions of Schurz, Schenck, 
Milroy, and Eeynolds, and kept on firing and gaining 
ground till noon, when the ardent Kearny arrived. 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

By two o'clock Hooker and Eeno also were on the 

Pope coming up rearranged the battle front; he 
placed Kearny's troops on his right, Eeynolds's on his 
left, with Hooker's and Reno's at the center, and then 
made a reserve. There was irregular fighting till 
about 4.30, when a desperate attack was made. Kear- 
ny and Hooker got nearer and nearer, firing and 
advancing, till it appeared as though the railway cut 
and embankment of Jackson would certainly be taken 
by their repeated charges. 

McDowell and Porter, quite early, marching from 
the east had come upon a stubborn skirmish line ; the 
former left Porter to watch this resistance, whatever 
it was, and bore off with King's and Ricketts's divi- 
sions to the right and formed a solid junction with 
Pope's front. 

Judging from Pope's orders of 4.30 p.m., he did ex- 
pect Porter to attack Jackson's right. However, ac- 
cording to the weight of testimony now extant. Long- 
street's large command had already joined Jackson's 
right when the order of Pope to General Porter was 

Owing to all the unhappy circumstances of this and 
the day previous, August 29th ended this prolonged 
contest in a drawn battle. 

During the anxious night which ensued, from va- 
rious circumstances which influenced the mind of a 
commander. Pope received the impression that Lee 
was retiring; but, strange to tell, Lee and Pope were 
both preparing to advance and take the offensive. 

Porter's command was at last drawn forward to the 
main army, and on the 30th his men went into action, 
side by side, with the rest. It was a stormy fight, bad 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

enough for us, because Stuart and Longstreet were 
able to envelop Pope's left flank, and they pressed our 
army back to the same old ground of the first Bull Eun. 
There was a constant change of front ; our best troops 
held woods, ravines, knolls, and buildings with un- 
wonted tenacity. But we were undoubtedly defeated; 
at dark Lee held the fields which were covered with the 
dead and wounded; yet our lines were not broken up, 
and we still stuck to the Warrenton Pike. During the 
darkness of the night, by using that highway and such 
other roads south as he wished, Pope slowly drew back 
his command to the heights of Centreville. 

During these exciting operations I was an observer 
from different places. August 23d I went in the after- 
noon to Halleck's private dwelling in Washington, and 
waited half an hour for him to finish his nap. At last 
he stood in the doorway of his reception room, and, 
looking at me sternly, as if I had committed some 
grave offense, said : " Do you want to see me officially, 
sir? " Being taken aback by his manner I stammered : 
"Partly officially and partly not." "Well, sir, what 
is it?" 

With no little vexation I told him that I had been 
wounded at Fair Oaks, but was now sufficiently recov- 
ered for duty, and that I wished to find my command. 
Without relaxing his coldness or offering me the least 
civility he replied : " The adjutant general will tell you 
that, sir." I bowed and said : " Good day, sir," and in- 
stantly left his house. I was afterwards assured that 
this uncalled-for treatment was not intended for insult 
or discipline, but was rather the way Halleck behaved 
after great perplexity and trial. 

By August 27th I had found my way to Sumner's 
corps, then at Falmouth. Stem as he was by nature 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

and habit, he received me kindly ; gave me a seat at his 
mess table, and Colonel Taylor, his adjutant general, 
surrendered to me his own bed for the night. 

My old brigade gave me every demonstration of 
affection; but thinking that I would never return to 
the army, Sumner had caused General Caldwell to 
be assigned to it. He quickly offered me another 
brigade in Sedgwick's division. General Burns, its 
commander, wounded at Savage Station, was away, 
and I was put in his place. It was the " California 
brigade " of Colonel Baker, who fell at Ball's 

On the 28th Sumner's corps was moved up to 
Alexandria and went into camp in front of that city 
near the Centreville Pike, where we had early news of 
Jackson's raid and shared the capital's excitement 
ever that event. 

Toward the evening of the 29th, when so many of 
our comrades were falling on the plains of Manassas, 
General Halleck ordered our corps to march to a place 
four or five miles above to Chain Bridge, on the Poto- 
mac, to anticipate a raid of Stuart. 

We made all possible speed, but were hardly there 
when peremptory orders sent us back in haste to Al- 
exandria, and then, at last, out to Centreville. By 
forced marches, moving night and day, and following 
Franklin's corps as soon as we reached the Pike, we 
arrived on the heights at noon of the 31st. We met 
Pope's overworked army there and, fatigued as we 
were, cheered our companions by our comparative 
freshness. Just to the north of the other troops, be- 
tween there and the supposed position of Lee, we went 
into bivouac. 

To my satisfaction I was selected the next morning 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

to conduct a reconnoissance in force still farther north, 
to find if Lee were there and report. Besides my bri- 
gade I had some cavalry. Covered with a good body 
of skirmishers, we marched rapidly till we aroused 
Lee's pickets. They gave way; then we came in sight 
of his skirmishers, who opened fire upon us at once. 
When we had pressed them more closely we succeeded 
in drawing the fire of their noisy batteries. My pur- 
pose was now gained, and I fell back slowly and stead- 
ily to my place in the general lines. We had found that 
Lee's army, or a part of it, was out on the Little Eiver 
Turnpike between Aldie and Fairfax Court House. 
On that pike, somewhat east of the point to which I had 
pushed out, was the small hamlet of Chantilly. While 
I was reconnoitering, Stonewall Jackson, cautiously 
feeling his way eastward to gain Pope's rear and cut 
his commimications near Fairfax Court House, was ad- 
vancing his command along that same turnpike. But 
this time Pope, having troops enough, had sent a wing 
in the same direction and so was ready to check the 
enterprising general. 

Near a crossroad was an abrupt knoll named Ox 
Hill. This hill with a considerable ravine in front of 
it was already occupied by our troops, Reno's and 
Stevens's divisions, with Phil Kearny's near at hand. 
Hooker's had passed beyond, nearer to Fairfax. 
When, toward evening, Jackson came near Ox Hill, as 
usual, he promptly put his men into line of battle, and 
pushed forward. On our side Reno's division on the 
left held its ground and repelled every charge; Gen- 
eral Stevens did the same for a while and then his 
soldiers began to give way, and he himself was killed. 
Then Reno's flank was uncovered and his right regi- 
ments had to break back. It was at this trying epoch 


Second Battle of Bull Run 

of this battle that Kearny sprang to the rescue. 
Birney's brigade he caused to replace Stevens's troops, 
and the battle was renewed with fierce energy, while a 
heavy chilling rain poured down upon the combatants. 
Kearny, to see what more could be done at the right 
of Birney, as he had often done before, instead of send- 
ing another, rode his horse straight out toward his 
right front beyond his own men. He encountered Con- 
federates. They fired upon him and he was instantly 
killed. Thus passed from the stage of action in that 
brief combat at Chantilly two officers of great ability 
and energy — Philip Kearny and Isaac I. Stevens. It 
was a serious loss to the Union cause. 

Jackson was forced to halt, and Pope's line of 
communication became his line of withdrawal. 
Pope, doubtless with much chagrin, formed his 
retreating column, and marched back to the Poto- 
mac, retiring within the ample fortifications of our 

I had command of the rear guard; of that one of 
these columns which fell back toward the Chain Bridge. 
General Sumner gave me a detachment of all arms to 
do the work assigned. Who will forget the straggling, 
the mud, the rain, the terrible panic and loss of life 
from random firing, and the hopeless feeling — almost 
despair — of that dreadful night march! After pass- 
ing Fairfax Court House we were not molested by the 
Confederates, yet the variety of experience of that 
march gave me lessons of great value for all my sub- 
sequent career. A most important one was to have, as 
I then had, a cool, courageous, and self-reliant officer, 
like Colonel Alfred Sully, in command of the last regi- 
ment. Another lesson was, in order successfully to 
cover a retreat in the night, a degree of discipline for 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

cavalry, infantry, and artillery is required beyond that 
needed at any other time. A third, which is always 
necessary, but there impressed me as indispensable, 
was for the rear-guard commander to have a well- 
instructed, reliable, indefatigable staff. 




COULD the reader have seen with Mr. Lincoln's 
eyes — sad, earnest, deep, penetrating as they 
were — the condition of the Republic on September 2d 
and 3d, when the Union army with broken ranks and 
haggard looks came straggling and discouraged to the 
protection of the encircling forts of Washington, he 
would have realized the crisis. Divisions in council — 
envy and accusation among military leaders, unsatis- 
fied ambition struggling for the ascendency — waves of 
terror gathering force as they rolled from Washing- 
ton through Maryland and Pennsylvania northward — ■ 
a triumphant, hostile army, well organized, well offi- 
cered, and great in numbers, under a chief of acknowl- 
edged character and ability, within twenty miles of the 
capital — these served to blow the crackling embers, 
and fan the consuming flame. 

But Abraham Lincoln, who cried to God for 
strength, was equal to this emergency. He brought 
Halleck over to his mind. He checked the secret and 
open work of his ministers which he deemed too ab- 
rupt ; he silenced the croakings of the war committees 
of Congress ; he stirred all truly loyal hearts by cogent 
appeals to send forward men and money ; he buried his 
personal preferences and called back McClellan, his 
former though fretful lieutenant, from the position of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

helplessness and semidisgrace to which he had recently 
been consigned by having his army turned over to 
Pope piecemeal. He gave McClellan command of all 
the scattered forces then in and around the District 
of Columbia. A vein of confidence in McClellan as a 
safe leader ran through the forces — in fact, just the 
commander for that tumultous epoch, and Mr. Lin- 
coln's good judgment was sustained by the army. 

McClellan accepted the trust without remonstrance 
and without condition, and at once went to work. He 
refitted and reorganized, moving each division with 
caution by short marches northward ; and this time he 
made proper provision for the defense of Washington. 
Slowness was wise then. 

It gave proper supplies. It arranged order, which 
soon replaced an unparalleled confusion and brought 
cheerfulness and hopefulness to us all. Hooker be- 
came commander of McDowell's old First Corps. 
Sumner retained the Second. One division of the 
Fourth Corps was present under Couch. Porter still 
had the Fifth, and Franklin the Sixth. The Ninth was 
commanded by General Cox after Eeno's death. The 
Twelfth Corps was commanded by General Mansfield; 
the cavalry by Alfred Pleasonton. 

After Chantilly, Lee, whom we left in force not far 
from Centreville, after one day's delay for rest and re- 
fitting, marched to Leesburg, near the Potomac, in 
Northwestern Virginia. He was beginning an inva- 
sion of Maryland and Pennsylvania, for he could there 
obtain more supplies than Virginia, denuded by the 
war, could furnish. Such a movement also transferred 
the theater of the war beyond the borders of the Con- 
federacy. Confederate hopes were based on Mary- 
land. Would not a victory on her soil aid her down- 


The Battle of South Mountain 

trodden and oppressed people to set themselves 
forever free from Northern domination ? 

By September 7th the Confederate army had 
crossed the Potomac above us at different fords be- 
tween Poolesville and Point of Eocks and bivouacked 
in the neighborhood of Frederick City, Md. The Con- 
federate political leaders were disappointed with 
Maryland. It was too late for a few fire eaters to carry 
by storm the hearts of the Union Marylanders. So 
Lee, though in a slave State abundant in resources, 
with here and there a sympathizing family, found him- 
self virtually in a land of lukewarm attachments to 
his cause. But few recruits joined him. The Con- 
federate currency was not willingly received as money. 
The stars and bars flying over some of the public build- 
ings gave the people no satisfaction. General Lee, 
though aided and encouraged by a few secession citi- 
zens, soon ceased his futile efforts, and gave his atten- 
tion to the military problems before him. 

Harper's Ferry, with an outpost at Martinsburg, 
eighteen miles to the west, was commanded by a vet- 
eran Union officer of the regular army, Colonel Dixon 
S. Miles. He had under his authority about 13,000 
men, including artillery and cavalry, while General 
Julius White had a small force at Martinsburg. 

The Confederates, after crossing the Potomac, be- 
low Harper's Ferry, had completely turned Miles's 
position. McClellan then asked Halleck to have Miles 
move from Harper's Ferry up the Cumberland Valley. 
Halleck being unwilling, for he had much wronghead- 
edness concerning that historic place, McClellan then 
requested the withdrawal of Miles to Maryland 
Heights ; but even this was denied him. 

At this time the Potomac, between Harper's Ferry 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and Maryland Heights, was not too deep to ford. The 
country is rugged, and the Shenandoah entering the 
Potomac there from the south makes with it a right 
angle. The two rivers after confluence break through 
the mountain chain and roll on eastward. Between 
this increased torrent and the Shenandoah are Loudon 
Heights. Crossing from the Maryland side the village 
of Harper's Ferry is on a lower level than any of its 
environment. The old armory and its dependencies 
were already in 1862 in ruins, and there was little 
else there. A well-pronounced ridge called Bolivar 
Heights, two miles out toward the southwest, extended 
from the upper Potomac to the Shenandoah. To an 
unpracticed eye these heights signified a line of de- 
fense. Colonel Dixon Miles, not realizing how com- 
pletely Loudon and Maryland Heights commanded 
every nook and corner of his position, remained at 
Harper's Ferry to defend it. 

By September 12th our Army of the Potomac, well 
in hand, had worked its way northward to Frederick 

Lee, after he was north of the Potomac, had pushed 
off westward, crossing the Catoctin Eange, seizing 
and occupying the passes of the South Mountain, with 
the intention to take Harper's Ferry in reverse and 
pick up the garrison of Martinsburg, that he might 
have via the Shenandoah clear communications with 
Eichmond, and gain the prestige of these small victo- 
ries, while he was making ready to defeat McClellan's 
large army. All the while this rich region of Maryland 
gave him abundant supplies of animals and flour. 
From the mountain passes Stuart's cavalry was watch- 
ing our slow and steady approach. 

On the 13th inference and conjecture became a cer- 


The Battle of South Mountain 

tainty. D. H. Hill lost one copy of Lee's order of 
march and it was brought to McClellan. That order 
sent Stonewall Jackson west from Frederick City, 
through Middletown, to recross the Potomac near 
Sharpsburg, choke the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 
capture Julius White at Martinsburg, and then close 
in on Harper's Ferry, and be sure not to permit the 
Union troops of Colonel Miles to escape west or north. 
McLaws, adding Anderson's division to his own, was 
to branch off southward from the Middletown road 
and, keeping north of the Potomac, hasten to seize and 
hold Maryland Heights, and thus to do his part in cap- 
turing Harper's Ferry; while Longstreet would halt 
at Boonsboro, west of South Mountain, and delay our 
westward march. To make assurance doubly sure Lee 
sent Walker's division to hurry south to Cheek's Ford, 
cross the Potomac there, and turn back by Lovettsville, 
Va., and seize Loudon Heights. Lee kept the new di- 
vision of D. H. Hill for his rear guard, to be gradually 
drawn in till it should join Longstreet at Boonsboro. 

These instructions of the Confederate leader were 
plain. They were dated September 9th, and their exe- 
cution began the morning of the lOtli. Three days and 
a part of another passed before McClellan had in his 
hand the hostile plan ; he was three days too late for 
its prevention; yet if our troops at Harper's Ferry 
could make a reasonably successful defense, two im- 
portant things might follow: First, Lee might be 
caught, as was McClellan on the Chickahominy, with 
an army worse divided, and be overwhelmed in 
detail; and second, the Harper's Ferry force might 
be saved. 

This view of the situation became current among 
us ; the hope of officers and men was an inspiration as 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

our columns marched off. The soldiers pressed for- 
ward eager to fulfill their new instructions. 

Stonewall Jackson, having good roads, quickly led 
his noted marchers from Middletown to Williamsport, 
and September 11th crossed the Potomac into Vir- 
ginia. Getting wind of this. General White during 
that night withdrew from Martinsburg to Harper's 
Ferry, but did not assume command over Dixon Miles. 
Early on the 13th Jackson encamped just beyond the 
range of Bolivar Heights, near the village of Halltown, 
in full view of Miles' s skirmishers. 

Our Colonel Ford, of the Thirty-third Ohio, with a 
brigade was across the river on Maryland Heights. 
McLaws drove in Ford's farthest outpost the evening 
of the 11th, and on the 13th deployed his command for 
severer battle. 

Colonel Ford gave up, with practically no fight at 
all, the vital point — the very citadel of Harper's Ferry 
— spiked his four cannon, and crossed the river to swell 
the force already there. His alleged excuse was that 
his own regiment refused to fight. 

The Confederate division under "Walker had per- 
formed its part. The morning of the 13th found them 
at the base of Loudon Heights ; a few hours later can- 
non, supported by sufficient infantry, had crowned that 
convenient mountain. Before night Walker had con- 
certed with McLaws and closed up every eastward es- 
cape on the Potomac. 

At sunset of the 13th Miles's garrison was com- 
pletely invested. The whole story of the defense is a 
sad one — more than 13,000 of as good troops as we had 
were forced to surrender. 

One would have thought that any army officer, one 
even as feeble as Dixon Miles, would have placed his 


The Battle of South Mountain 

strongest garrison on Maryland Heights and defended 
it to the last extremity ; and, indeed, while he ventured 
to remain at Harper's Ferry, how could he have failed 
to fortify Loudon Mountain and hold its summit and 
nearer base? Had this been done there would have 
been some reason for facing Jackson along the Bolivar 

Sunday evening my friend and classmate, Colonel 
B. F. Davis, had obtained Colonel Miles's permission, 
and with 1,500 Union cavalry forded the Potomac 
and passed off northward. He captured some of 
Longstreet's wagons on the Maryland shore, made a 
few prisoners, and, avoiding the Confederate columns, 
joined McClellan, the 16th, at Antietam. 

The Army of the Potomac was still en route west- 
ward toward Lee. On September 13th McClellan sim- 
plified his organization. The right wing was assigned 
to Burnside, the left to Franklin, and the center to 
Sumner. Burnside had two corps — Hooker's and 
Reno's; Franklin two — his own and Porter's; Sumner 
two — his own and Mansfield's. As each corps com- 
mander had three divisions, except Mansfield and Por- 
ter, who had two each, there were sixteen divisions, 
giving forty-seven brigades of infantry, the brigades 
averaging 1,800 strong. 

Our cavalry division then counted five brigades of 
cavalry and four batteries. We had, all told, some forty 
batteries of artillery generally distributed to the divi- 
sions for care and support in action. 

Franklin with the left wing was sent from his camp 
south of Frederick City, the 14th, past Burkittsville, 
and on through Crampton Pass into Pleasant Valley, 
aiming for Maryland Heights. Three requirements 
were named : To gain the pass, cut off, destroy or cap- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ture McLaws's command and relieve Miles. " I ask 
of you," McClellan added, " at this important moment 
all your intellect and the utmost activity that a gen- 
eral can exercise." 

Skirmishing began with the enemy before reaching 
Burkittsville, and Franklin's men swept on, driving 
the Confederate pickets up the mountain defile until 
his advance came upon a force of Confederate artillery 
well posted. 

General Howell Cobb, of Georgia, was left back by 
McLaws to defend this defile. It was a strong posi- 
tion ; but Franklin came on with vigor and carried the 
first position by storm. 

Cobb and his main force fell back, ran hastily to the 
top of the ridge, and there made another stand. 

Our men after rectifying their lines followed on 
over rough ground on both sides of the narrow road 
till they approached the summit. The crest was soon 
carried and Franklin warmly congratulated his men 
for their sturdiness. He took one piece of artillery and 
three Confederate flags. Of our men 110 were killed 
and 420 wounded, while Franklin buried 150 Confed- 
erate dead and held 300 as his prisoners. 

Franklin camped in Pleasant Valley the night 
of September 14th, only five miles from Maryland 
Heights. Had that position not been deserted, Frank- 
lin could have drawn off the garrison at Harper's 
Ferry from the grasp of Jackson. Of course, Frank- 
lin was disappointed by Miles's surrender and Mc- 
Clellan chagrined, yet they had done their best. 

In our march to attack Lee's divided forces my 
small brigade belonged to the center in Sedgwick's di- 
vision. We pushed our way northward a few miles up 
the valley just east of the South Mountain, and skir- 


The Battle of South Mountain 

mished with Stuart's watching force, backing up our 
own cavalry in that direction. 

Meanwhile, Burnside's wing, followed by the re- 
mainder of Sumner's forces, hurried straight forward 
to Turner's Gap on the direct road from Frederick to 
Hagerstown. This part of the South Mountain is a 
mountain indeed, much wooded, very rugged, and 
steep. The National road leads from one side straight 
up through the natural depression, which is named 
Turner's Gap. A road to the right, called the old 
Hagerstown road, after leading to the north, comes 
back into the National road at the summit. Another 
highway crosses the mountain a mile or so to the south 
of the National road, and is called the old Sharpsburg 
road. Should we ascend by the one to the right of the 
turnpike, we would wind around a spur and find a small 
valley between this spur and the main ridge. This val- 
ley was occupied by the enemy. The Confederates 
found a crossroad near the crest. Along this cross- 
road D. H. Hill arranged his brigades. Both to the 
north and south of the National road fine locations for 
cannon were selected and occupied by him. Some were 
placed so as to sweep a high point well to the north, 
rather too commanding to admit of possession by an 
enemy. This, a sort of peak, every engineer called the 
key of the position. From it two distinct mountain 
crests coursed off southward for a mile or more with 
hardly a break. These crests protected the little sum- 
mit valley and D. H. Hill's Confederates held them. 

The evening of the 13th Pleasonton followed Stuart 
to the mouth of the gap. Feeling instinctively that 
the Confederates would occupy and defend such a de- 
file he dismounted half of his men and sent them up 
the old Hagerstown road. They were soon stopped by 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

a heavy fire. That night Pleasonton contented him- 
self with reconnoissances for information. Early, the 
14th, Burnside having sent him an infantry brigade 
he so located a battery as to cover an advance, and sent 
the brigade up the National road. It had just started 
when Cox, the division commander, arrived with an- 
other brigade and pushed it on to help the other. They 
made a lodgment near the top of the mountain to the 
left of the National road. General Cox now brought 
up artillery and two brigades to the points gained, 
when Garland's successor commanding that part of the 
Confederate field undertook by desperate charging and 
rapid firing to regain the important crest. But he 
could not. During the first part of the engagement 
when our men cleared the crest and made the first 
break. General Garland lost his life. D. H. Hill de- 
nounced that success of Cox as a failure, because it did 
not secure the extensive crossroad behind him, and he 
gave the credit of its defense to Garland, alleging that 
" this brilliant service cost us the life of that grand, 
accomplished. Christian soldier." 

The battle thus far had consumed five hours ; there 
came then, as is usual, a mutual cessation from strife 
— a sort of tacit understanding that there would be 
some artillery practice and skirmishing only while 
each party was getting ready to renew the conflict. 

Meanwhile, Eosser had come to replace Garland, 
and several Confederate brigades had been brought 
up and located for a rush forward, or for an effectual 

On our side Eeno's division had closed up to Will- 
cox's, Sturgis's, and Eodman's divisions. 

The men of the South, possessed of American grit, 
were wont to exhibit all the elan of the French in ac- 


The Battle of South Mountain 

tion. They were ready sooner than Eeno and charged 
furiously upon our strengthened line, aiming their 
heaviest blows against our right, upon which they had 
brought to bear plenty of cannon. Though not at first 
prepared to go forward, Eeno's men stood firmly to 
their line of defense. At last, not being satisfied with 
this, though volley had met volley, and cannon an- 
swered cannon, Eeno ordered his whole line to ad- 
vance. These orders were instantly obeyed and the 
forward movement started with enthusiasm. Our 
charge, however, was checked here and there by coun- 
tercharges, the Confederates putting forward desper- 
ate efforts to break and hold back the advancing line. 
After all, at dark, it seemed but a drawn battle to those 
in immediate contention on this front. While examin- 
ing his new line, General Jesse L. Eeno was killed. 
Eeno was one of our ablest and most promising com- 
manders. D. H. Hill's comment, considering his pas- 
sion, was a compliment, when he said : " The Yankees 
lost on their side General Eeno, a renegade Virginian, 
who was killed by a happy shot from the Twenty-third 
North Carolina." 

As Eeno was never a secessionist, and as he was 
always true to the flag of his country, to which several 
times he swore allegiance, no stretch of language 
could truthfully brand him as a deserter. He was a 
true man, like such other Virginians as Craighill, 
Eobert Williams, John Newton, George H. Thomas, 
and Farragut. 

The most decisive work was on another front. 
Hooker was at the head of his corps. McClellan in 
person gave him orders on the field to press up the old 
Hagerstown road to the right and make a diversion in 
aid of Eeno's, attack. That movement was undertaken 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

without delay. Hooker's corps took on this formation : 
Meade's division to the right, Hatch's to the left; 
Eicketts's in the center a little back in reserve. 

Pleasonton sent two regiments of cavalry to watch 
the flanks. Naturally expecting slow progress from 
Eeno, Hooker thought the best diversion would be an 
immediate assault on whatever was before or near him. 

The high peak before named, the key of the field, 
did not appear to be strongly occupied by Confeder- 
ates ; there was a battery discovered and thin lines to 
sweep the height, but that was all that was apparent. 
So Meade and Hatch with their deployed lines went 
forward as fast as men could in climbing such a rough 
mountain. They soon encountered an enemy; proba- 
bly at first there were but three opposing brigades and 
a few pieces of artillery, but the resistance increased. 
It was a rugged place where the Confederates could 
and did take advantage of every obstacle to disable or 
hold back Hooker's soldiers. 

Longstreet, hastening up from Boonsboro, was 
ascending the mountain about this time. His brigades, 
as they came to the western crest, weary though they 
were from the march, were rushed into position and 
into hot battle; but our Eicketts dispatched thither a 
brigade which, by a prompt change of front, stopped 
that danger, while Meade had the satisfaction of 
crowning the desired peak. That key was taken and 
batteries drawn up before sundown. To cover the 
guns by barricades and arrange them to enfilade the 
two crests, artillerymen were not slow to accomplish. 
They saw at once that they had a plunging fire upon 
the little mountain valley. 

Meade had the summit peak, but lest it be retaken. 
Hatch, to his left, struggled over the uneven ground 


The Battle of South Mountain 

through the forest, fighting his way forward. He was 
so hard pressed that Hooker sent him a brigade from 
Ricketts to thicken his lines. This help came when 
most needed; but while Hatch during the rain of bul- 
lets was riding along and encouraging his soldiers to 
charge and take a fence line held by the enemy, he him- 
self was severely wounded by a shot from behind that 
fence. Doubleday then took Hatch's place while the 
firing was still frequent and troublesome. He tried a 
ruse : he caused his men to cease firing. The Confed- 
erates, thinking they had cleared their front, sprang 
forward a few paces to receive from Doubleday's am- 
bush a sweeping volley — this broke up their align- 
ments and they were chased back from the battle 
ground. The woods which Meade and Doubleday had 
fought through, the minor combats continuing in the 
darkness of the night, resounded with the cries of 
wounded and dying men; while the many dead, es- 
pecially on Hatch's route, at dawn of the next day, 
showed the severity of the struggle. 

Burnside had detached General Jolm Gibbon from 
Hooker to keep up a connection with Reno, but near 
night Gibbon was sent up the National road. He kept 
a battery in the road well forward. The Confederates 
from their crest began to fire as they got glimpses of 
this bold move both upon the brigade and the battery. 
But Gibbon's men by strengthening their skirmishers 
and steadily moving on pushed everything before 
them; they ran from tree to tree, or rock to rock, till 
the battery thus covered by them had worked ahead 
enough to be effective. Then Gibbon's battery began 
its discharges straight upon the Confederate guns, 
which had hitherto annoyed his march. By its effect- 
ive help the battery aided the regiments abreast of it 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

to stretch out into lines as good and regular as the 
ragged, rocky slope would permit. The men, taking a 
fresh impulse, clambered up over the rocks, driving 
their enemies — two regiments of them — from woods, 
crags, and stone fences. The two Confederate regi- 
ments were then helped by three more, and our men 
were clogged for a time. But Gibbon in the end se- 
cured the gorge and slept on his battlefield. 

I came to the scene of the conflict near the close of 
the contest. The triumph was evident and welcome, 
but much tempered by our severe losses and by the 
presence of the wounded men who with fortitude were 
suppressing the evidences of pain. Burnside was rid- 
ing around among his troops. They generally looked 
pleased and hopeful, but very weary. They did not 

About midnight Hill and Longstreet had drawn off 
their commands, leaving their dead and severely 
wounded in our hands. The Confederates had here 
the advantage of position, of course. We put more 
men than they into action. We lost 325 killed and 1,403 
wounded and 85 missing. The Confederate loss was 
about the same as ours in killed and wounded. We 
took 1,500 prisoners. In spite of the Harper's Ferry 
disaster our army took heart again, on account of our 
victory in the battle of South Mountain, and re- 
posed confidence in McClellan. 

The spot where Eeno fell is marked by a stone 
monument, erected to his memory by Daniel Wise. 
Friends and foes in that beautiful mountain valley fell 
asleep together. Would that they awake in the like- 
ness of the Man of Peace! 

Very early in the morning of the 15th our division 
passed the troops of Reno and Hooker, and pressed 


The Battle of South Mountain 

forward down the western slopes of South Mountain, 
through Boonsboro in pursuit. 

As we descended the mountain road thus early, I 
could see little puffs of smoke from many rifles and 
sudden clouds rolling up from cannon, yet, strange to 
say, could hear no sound. The air was very clear, and 
the distance greater than it appeared. Our own divi- 
sion's advance brigade and Pleasonton's cavalry were 
skirmishing with Lee's rear guard. 




npHE two columns of the Army of the Potomac, 
•*■ fighting their way through Turner's Gap and 
Crampton Pass and pressing their pursuit of Lee, de- 
bouched into the valley west of the mountains; one 
appeared at Boonsboro and the other southward 
at Rohrersville. The stretch of valley from Boons- 
boro to the Potomac is named the Antietam Valley, 
because the Antietam, a small river which runs near 
Hagerstown and a little east of Sharpsburg, enters 
the Potomac a few miles below. The general course of 
this crooked stream is south. 

September 15th, the day after the defeat at Turn- 
er's Gap, Lee rapidly gathered his material and troops 
upon the peninsula which is formed by the Antietam 
and the Potomac. The bends of the Potomac cause 
the intercepted space to be broadened here and there, 
yet, higher upstream, the neck of the peninsula is 
scarcely two miles across. The country around Sharps- 
burg is fertile and beautiful and afforded Lee special 
advantages as a position in which to halt and stand on 
the defensive till he could gather in his several scat- 
tered columns. 

A main road, the Sharpsburg Pike, coming across 
the Potomac at Shepherdstown where there was a 
good ford, ran northeast through Sharpsburg, crossed 


The Battle of Antietam 

the Antietam by a stone bridge, and kept on through 
Boonsboro. Another, the Hagerstown Pike, divided 
the peninsula by a north and south trend. One 
other important highway divided the southeast angle 
of the other two bisecting roads ; from Sharpsburg, as 
an apex, this road crossed the Antietam at Burnside's 
bridge and forked when it reached higher ground; the 
upper fork led to Eohrersville and the other ran 
south into the Harper's Ferry road. A few miles 
above the regular crossing was a zigzag country road 
— sometimes named " the diagonal." It intersected the 
Antietam at Newkirk and passed from pike to pike. 

As the Antietam Eiver, from Newkirk to its mouth, 
had steep banks and scarcely any practicable fords, 
it was to Lee just the obstacle he needed to cover his 

He located D. H. Hill and Longstreet on the right 
and left of the main pike, while he sent off Hood's 
division to the left. The convenient curves of the Po- 
tomac would protect his flanks as soon as he had men 
enough to fill the space. At first he did not have more 
than 25,000 men on the ground; but with considerable 
artillery he was able to so arrange his batteries as to 
defend the bridges and cover all approaches from the 
Antietam to Sharpsburg. In fact, he had a surplus of 
cannon and so sent an artillery reserve across the Po- 
tomac to protect the fords in his rear. He found for 
his use in that uneven country rocky heights, favor- 
able ravines, deep-cut roads, abundant fences of rail 
and stone, buildings, and well-located strips of wood- 

Dunker Chapel was near a hotly contested spot, 
being equidistant from Newkirk Bridge, the Potomac 
upper bend, and Sharpsburg. It was quite enveloped 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

by a small forest that stretched off for a half mile 
toward the Potomac. People called this forest " the 
Dunker Woods." No prize of chivalry was ever more 
desperately contended for than this locality. East of 
the Hagerstown Pike, and still farther north near 
Dunbar's Mills, was a large, open grove called " the 
East Woods." That grove was the left of Lee's first 
temporary line. 

McClellan, seeing that Franklin was detained by 
McLaws, who, having now the impregnable Maryland 
Heights, was able to avoid battle, ordered Franklin to 
Antietam. McLaws, quick to notice Franklin's depar- 
ture, crossed the Potomac twice and reached Lee at 
Sharpsburg at the same hour that Franklin reported 
to McClellan. 

The column to which I belonged pushed forward 
its head as rapidly as possible from Boonsboro to 
the east bank of the Antietam. During that first day, 
September 15th, only two divisions, Eichardson's and 
Sykes's, drew sufficiently near to receive the enemy's 

Eager as McClellan was to engage Lee before Jack- 
son and other detachments could get back to him, Lee's 
bold attitude and evident preparation forced him to 
wait, to reconnoiter and get up force enough to attack. 
Putting together the sickness and discouragements 
that followed our second Bull Run and the Harper's 
Ferry disaster, nobody will wonder that our army had 
many stragglers between Washington and the Antie- 
tam. Even our moderate successes at South Mountain 
produced much additional weariness and wilfulness 
with some indifference and slowness on the part of cer- 
tain officers holding important commands. These sug- 
gestions account for unusual delays in the marches 


The Battle of Antietam 

which McClellan had ordered, as well as for the com- 
paratively small force assembled as late as the morn- 
ing of the 16th to take the offensive. McClellan had 
hoped for a prompt attack on overtaking Lee, certainly 
by nine o'clock of the 16th. But, coming forward him- 
self to the front, he did not order an immediate assault. 
He could not at first get Burnside with his left wing 
to understand or execute what he wished. His own in- 
formation was too incomplete. He had word that 
Jackson was already returned to Lee, so that there was 
no longer need of precipitation. Later, he found that 
McLaws did not join the main army till the morning 
of the 17th, Anderson's division afterwards ; and A. P. 
Hill's, left at Harper's Ferry to finish the work there, 
was still later on the ground. From want of previous 
knowledge and from a natural desire that Franklin 
and Couch should close up to swell his numbers, Mc- 
Clellan delayed action till late in the afternoon of the 

Hooker's corps, Mansfield's in support, and then 
Sumner's, were destined for the right column. Burn- 
side's command, consisting of four divisions with 
plenty of artillery to help him, was given the work of 
storming the lower stone bridge which now bears his 
name. Porter's or Franklin's troops, or such as could 
be brought up in time from Pleasant Valley, were to 
be held in hand for necessary reenforcement or for the 
direct central thrust, whenever that should become 

The first movement in the way of executing the plan 
had to begin in plain sight of our watching foes. They 
understood it from the start. About 4 p.m. Hooker's 
divisions, having previously worked far up the Antie- 
tam, passed over that stream by a bridge and ford west 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

of Keedysville, crossings having been early secured 
and held for them by our cavalry. General Hooker led 
his corps, evidently with a hope of completely turning 
Lee's left, far away past Dunbar Mills. Doubleday's 
division was in advance. He had proceeded, perhaps, 
a couple of miles from the bridge and ford north- 
westerly when the enemy's skirmishers opened fire. 
Hooker at once faced his command to the left and de- 
ployed his lines. The Pennsylvania reserves under 
Meade formed the center, Doubleday's to the right, 
and Ricketts's division to the left of Meade. 

Hood's division of Confederates with assisting bat- 
teries held the " East Woods " and was vis-a-vis to 
Hooker. D. H. Hill extended Hood's line down toward 
the Antietam. Jackson's two divisions, Lawton's and 
J. R. Jones's, were by this time holding the " West 
Woods " about Dunker Church. Stuart with cavalry 
and considerable artillery was farther west than Hood. 

Without hesitation the Pennsylvania reserves 
pressed the enemy and opened a brisk fusillade which 
was returned with equal spirit. There was consider- 
able musketry that evening and some artillery ex- 
changes with apparent success to Hooker. About ten, 
Jackson, finding Hood's men overweary and hungry 
from a long fast, sent him two brigades and put in 
some fresh artillery, rectifying the lines as well as it 
could be done in the darkness of the night. 

Hooker, sleepless at such a time, rearranged his 
batteries and their supports and had everything in 
order for an advance at the first glimmer of daylight. 

Mansfield's supporting corps crossed the Antietam 
where Hooker did, but encamped through the night 
more than a mile in his rear; while our corps (Sum- 
ner's), intended also for the support of Hooker, was 


The Battle of Antietam 

still far off near McClellan's center, bivouacking by 
the Boonsboro and Sharpsburg Turnpike and all 
the time within the reach of a disturbing artillery 

One fact quite impressed me there the evening of 
the 16th. General Sedgwick, always a warm friend of 
McClellan, and I were standing together and examin- 
ing by help of our glasses Lee's position beyond the 
river, when an officer in charge of McClellan's head- 
quarters' baggage train led his column of wagons to 
a pleasant spot on the slope, just behind us, in full view 
of our whole division. The enemy sent a few bursting 
shells into his neighborhood. This officer, much dis- 
turbed, quickly countermarched his train and hurried 
it off far out of range to the rear. It was done amid 
the jokes and laughter of our men. Sedgwick, seeing 
the move, shook his head and said solemnly : " I am 
sorry to see that ! " 

McClellan himself did not go back that night; but 
the men thought that he did. Some of his staff never 
could understand how easily in times of danger the 
morale of an army may be injured. 

For September 17th Sumner's orders were for him 
to he ready to march from camp one hour before day- 
light. We were ready on time, but McClellan's order 
of execution failed to reach us till 7.20 and then it 
embraced but two divisions, Sedgwick's and French's, 
Eichardson's being detained to await Franklin's ar- 
rival. Immediately our division (Sedgwick's) moved 
off in good order to the upper crossings of the Antie- 
tam, marching at the rate of at least three miles an 

As soon as we had crossed the small river, by Sum- 
ner's arrangement we moved on in three parallel col- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Timns about seventy-five yards apart, Dana's brigade 
in the middle, mine to the right, and Gorman's to the 

We pulled on rapidly in this shape till we came in 
sight of the Dunbar Mills and our columns extended 
through the " East Woods." Here every column 
faced to the left, making three brigade lines parallel 
to each other with Gorman's in front and mine in 
rear. We formed in an open space in which was a 

Promptly at the break of day the battle had begun. 
Hooker's six batteries had started a roar resounding 
like thunder, being answered by a quick though not so 
noisy response, which, but for the return projectiles, 
would have passed for an echo of Hooker's guns. 
Then, hoping that his cannon had sufficiently opened 
the way. Hooker had each division commander ad- 
vance. Doubleday, the first, astride of the Hagers- 
town Turnpike, pressed forward in the grove as far as 
the crossroad. But at once he encountered a heavy 
fire from both artillery and infantry as if it had been 
all fixed for them. They did as troops usually do, de- 
layed, stopped, and returned fire for fire with rapidity. 

Meade, who had the heaviest force before him the 
night before, succeeded in making more progress than 
Doubleday, firing and advancing slowly. 

Eicketts's division, supporting the batteries to the 
left of it and materially aided by their fire, gained 
even more ground than Meade. But soon there was 
surging to and fro. The forces engaged on the two 
sides were about equal, and the losses of men, killed 
and wounded in Hooker's corps, were startling. Eick- 
etts's division alone exceeded a thousand, while Gib- 
bon's small brigade counted nearly four hundred. The 


The Battle of Antietam 

Confederate losses were equally heavy, but our men 
did not then know that. 

The depletion was so great that when there was at 
last not enough infantry to guard his battery, Gibbon 
ordered it to limber to the rear and retire. Soon he 
followed with his infantry on account of reduction of 
numbers and want of ammunition. 

Hooker, however, persisted as usual, and, contrary 
to his first design, kept swinging to his own left and 
pressing forward. It had the effect to dislodge Jack- 
son and D. H. Hill from their first line, and at last to 
force them through the cornfields and open spaces into 
the " West Woods." 

In this severe work General Starke, having the 
" Stonewall " division, and Colonel Douglass, leading 
Lawton's brigade, were killed. Lawton himself and 
Walker, brigade commanders, were sadly wounded. 
At least half of the men whom Lawton and Hays led 
into battle were disabled. Trimble's brigade suffered 
nearly as much. All the regimental commanders, ex- 
cepting two, were killed or wounded. 

This is enough to indicate the nature and severity 
of the struggle for those vital points, the " East " and 
the " West Woods." About the time Eicketts's enter- 
prise succeeded in seizing the edge of the woods near 
Dunker Church, Jackson brought in a fresh division 
and located it in those " West Woods." It was harder 
for Eicketts's men, for they had no such help. Stuart, 
the Confederate cavalry commander, had his batteries 
ready, and the instant Hooker's soldiers came into the 
open field brought a hurtful plunging fire to bear upon 

There is no marvel in the fact that Hooker's fine 
divisions were already much broken before emerging 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

into the open, and now were fearfully handled and 
must soon have gone to pieces; but just then, though 
too late for better results, the supports came on in time 
to prevent anything worse. Just as Hooker's oppo- 
nents were taking the offensive and about to make a 
charge Mansfield, whom Hooker had urgently called 
for, appeared on the ground with his corps. It was 
then between seven and eight o'clock. Mansfield at 
first only reenforced Hooker's lines and enabled him 
to recover a portion of his front that he had lately lost ; 
but the troops went forward only to come back again. 
Then the old general resolved to make a bold attack. 
He formed in semicircular order with Greene's division 
on the left and Williams's on the right. A brisk for- 
ward march was made like Hooker's of the early 
morning and met similar obstinacy. But under that 
impulsion the Confederates were forced to retire ; they 
were losing heavily, and even Stonewall Jackson's 
command was driven beyond the Dunker Church, but 
the gallant Mansfield, with his snowy white hair, while 
urging his troops in that charge, fell from his horse 
mortally wounded. 

About that period of the battle Lee, seeing little 
likelihood of McClellan's left under Burnside doing 
him much damage, almost stripped that quarter of 
troops. In fact, he left there only D. R. Jones and 
Toombs with thin lines and rushed the rest forward to 
his center and left. The distances were not great and 
the roads were good. In fact, the entire Confederate 
line did not exceed three miles in length and so curved 
on the upper flank as to be easily cared for. Hood, 
thus reenforced, now rested, and D. H. Hill, having all 
his available troops with the advance, made a strong 
charge against Mansfield's corps, which was not in 


The Battle of Antietam 

good condition for defense, and which was at best 
but weakly supported by Hooker's tired and broken 

This Confederate move, backed by the fresh troops 
and batteries well located to sweep our lines, soon suc- 
ceeded in breaking up and disorganizing the whole 
front. The greater portion of our men of the two 
corps fell back to the " East Woods " or northward to 
a grove on the Hagerstown Turnpike. Hooker, badly 
wounded, had left the field ; and the two division com- 
manders, Hartsuff and Crawford, were disabled. 
What an hour before were fine regiments now ap- 
peared in the edge of the woods and behind trees like 
squads irregularly firing toward the enemy. The bat- 
teries that came with Mansfield's corps were left 
almost alone, yet, unsupported, had checked that last 
Confederate charge and prevented the enemy from 
crossing the open ground between the " East " and 
" West Woods." 

General George S. Greene, a tenacious officer, had, 
with a part of his division, clung to the "West Woods " 
at a projection, and kept up for a time an effective 

This was the condition of affairs in that portion of 
the battlefield on our arrival. I saw abundant evi- 
dence of the preceding conflict, surely not very encour- 
aging to men just coming upon the field. Too many 
were busying themselves in carrying their wounded 
comrades to the rear. Sumner sent a staff officer to 
find the places where Hooker's corps was to be found. 
He came upon General Ricketts, the only officer of rank 
left there, who declared that he couldn't raise 300 
men of his corps for further work. While at nine 
o'clock Sumner with our division was preparing to take 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

his turn in the battle, Lee, as we have seen, had already 
sent troops to watch him. 

Without waiting for French's division, not yet 
near, or Richardson's, still at the distant bivouac, with 
an extraordinary confidence in our column of brigades 
and caring nothing for flanks, Sumner, with his gray 
hair streaming in the wind, rode to the leading brigade 
and ordered the advance. We broke through the corn- 
field; we charged over the open space and across the 
turnpike and forward well into the " West Woods " till 
Gorman's line encountered the enemy's sharp mus- 
ketry fire. Then all halted. Our three lines, each in 
two ranks, were so near together that a rifle bullet 
would often cross them all and disable five or six men 
at a time. While Gorman's brigade was receiving and 
returning shots, the waiting brigades, Dana's and mine, 
naturally sought to protect themselves by taking ad- 
vantage of the rocks, trees, and hollows, or by the old 
plan of lying down. While I could hear the whizzing 
of the balls, the woods being thick thereabouts, I could 
see no enemy. The first intimation which I had that 
neither Greene's division, which had held the projec- 
tion of the woods, nor French's was covering our left 
flank, came from a visit of Sumner himself. He ap- 
proached from the rear riding rapidly, having but two 
or three horsemen with him. The noise of the firing 
was confusing. He was without his hat and with his 
arms outstretched motioned violently. His orders were 
not then intelligible ; but I judged that Sedgwick's left 
had been turned and immediately sent the necessary 
orders to protect my flank by changing the front of my 
brigade to the left. Those nearer to the general than 
I were confident that he said : " Howard, you must get 
out of here," or " Howard, you must face about ! " 


The Battle of Antietam 

With troops that I had commanded longer I could 
have changed front, whatever Sumner said; but here, 
quicker than I can write the words, my men faced about 
and took the back track. Dana's line soon followed 
mine and then Gorman's. When we reached the open 
ground Sumner himself and every other officer of cour- 
age and nerve were exerting themselves to the utmost 
to rally the men, turn them back, and make head 
against the advancing enemy. But it was simply im- 
possible till we had traversed those cleared fields ; for 
we now had the enemy's infantry and artillery in rear 
and on our flank against our broken brigades, pelting 
us with their rapid and deadly volleys. That three- 
line advance had run Sedgwick's division into a trap 
well set and baited. Greene's spare command, hanging 
as we have seen to a projection or fragment of the 
" West Woods," was the bait, and Hill's brigades, 
already making for Greene, completely passed our left 
and sprung the trap. Sumner, too late, discovered 
Hill's effort. Sedgwick and Dana, badly wounded, left 
the field. The Second Division Second Corps then fell 
to me. It had good troops. Though losing heavily in 
our futile effort to change front before D. H. Hill, the 
division was speedily re-formed in the edge of the 
" East Woods " and gave a firm support to the nu- 
merous batteries which now fired again with wonderful 
rapidity and effect. We prevented all further disaster 
except the loss for the third time that day of those 
mysterious " West Woods." 

I have a further picture. It is of a ravine in the 
" West Woods," where my own staff and that of Gen- 
eral Bums sat upon their horses near me, just in rear 
of my waiting line, when the round shot were crashing 
through the trees and shells exploding rapidly over our 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

heads, while the hissing rifle balls, swift as the wind, cut 
the leaves and branches like hail, and whizzed uncom- 
fortably near our ears. Astonishing to tell, though ex- 
posed for an hour to a close musketry fire, though aids 
and orderlies were coming and going amid the shots, 
seemingly as thick as hail, not one individual of this 
group was hit. 

Captain E. Whittlesey had taken the place of F. D. 
Sewall, then colonel of the Nineteenth Maine, as adju- 
tant general of the brigade. He and my brother. Lieu- 
tenant Howard, badly wounded at Fair Oaks, had re- 
joined after the command left Washington. It was 
the first time I had seen Whittlesey under fire. He re- 
minded me, as I observed him, of General Sykes, who, 
in action, never moved a muscle. The effect of this im- 
perturbability on the part of a commander was whole- 
some. With a less stern countenance, but an equally 
strong will, Whittlesey was to me from that time the 
kind of help I needed in battle. Lieutenant Howard 
also, if he detected the least lack of coolness in me, 
would say quietly: "Aren't you a little excited!" 
This was enough to suppress any momentary ner- 

The worst thing which resulted from our retreat 
that day was the effect upon General Sumner himself. 
He concluded that if such troops as composed Hooker's 
corps and Sedgwick's division could be so easily beaten 
any other vigorous effort in that part of the field would 
be useless. 

Franklin's corps arrived from Pleasant Valley and 
reported to McClellan at 10 a.m. That was all, except 
Couch's attached division which Franklin had dis- 
patched to Maryland Heights, which came to us the 
morning of the 18th. 


The Battle of Antietam 

Franklin soon sent his leading division under W. 
F. Smith to aid Sedgwick, but, like all other supports 
in this ill-managed battle, it was a little too late. The 
trap had been sprung already and we had been forced 
back from the " West Woods." Smith, to guard the 
batteries, deployed Hancock's brigade to our left. 
Hancock separated the protecting batteries and put 
regiments between them. I sent a regiment, the Twen- 
tieth Massachusetts, to help him support his right bat- 
tery. The Confederates fired upon these new arrivals 
and were answered by the batteries. They ventured 
no farther, nor did we. General Smith sent Irwin's 
brigade to prolong Hancock's line leftward, while Sum- 
ner took Smith's other brigade to watch his extreme 
right, being apprehensive of some hostile countermove 
from that direction. 

French, as we have seen, was not in sight when 
Sedgwick went into action. He formed his parallel col- 
umns as we did. Instead of keeping on in our track, 
when about a mile behind us he faced to the left and 
marched off toward that part of the enemy's position. 
He directed his march obliquely toward Roulette's 
house, making a large angle with Sedgwick's direction. 
He doubtless thought Greene occupied more space and 
would move to the front with us — a natural mistake. 
But a big gap was left. It took four or five batteries, 
besides Hancock's and Irwin's elongated lines, to fill 
the interval. 

French's division marched briskly, driving in hos- 
tile skirmishers and engaging first heavy guns in 
chosen spots and then thicker musketry. The diagonal 
road which cuts both pikes and passes in front of Rou- 
lette's house is what the officers called the " sunken 
road." D. H. Hill filled a part of it with Confederate 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

brigades ; standing behind them were several batteries 
and the brigades of Rodes and Anderson in support. 
It was a well-chosen position for defense. Some of 
these troops had fought near Bunker's Church and 
had run back there after Sedgwick's discomfiture. 
Colonel Weber, commanding French's leading brigade 
to my left, now monopolized the fight. Soon his left 
was turned, while his front was hotly assailed. Kim- 
ball, seeing this, rushed his men up to clear Weber's 
exposed left and drove back the Confederate flankers, 
but they immediately ran to cover in the " sunken 
road " and there successfully defied his nearer ap- 
proach. The hard contest here, varying in intensity 
from moment to moment, lasted three full hours and 
our men found quite impossible a decisive forward 
movement in that place. 

French had upward of 2,000 men near there put 
hors de combat. Irwin's brigade of Smith's division, 
near Hancock, made one charge in the afternoon and 
went into those " West Woods," but then experienced 
the same trouble as the rest of us — it was striking in 
the dark ; they also were forced to retreat. 

Richardson's division after the arrival of Franklin 
was sent by McClellan to join our corps. After cross- 
ing the Antietam, Richardson directed his march on 
the Piper house, taking his cue from French's field, 
and soon was breasting the same deep roadway farther 
to the left. He did not attempt our formation but 
placed Meagher's brigade and Caldwell's abreast, Cald- 
well's on the left and Brooke's brigade considerably 
in the rear to watch his flanks. Thus he moved into 
close action. Once the Confederates were moving be- 
tween Richardson and French, for there was free space 
enough. Brooke caught the glimmer of their rifles and 


The Battle of Antietam 

sent to his right a regiment to meet and stop them at 
the right moment. 

Cross of the Fifth New Hampshire, aided by the 
Eighty-first Pennsylvania, did a like handsome thing 
for Caldwell's left flank. Cross in this successful move 
made a run for higher ground, while Brooke generously 
sent forward enough of his brigade to keep up Cross's 
connection with his proper front line. In these impul- 
sive thrusts of subordinates, almost without orders, a 
part of that horrid " sunken road " was captured and 
passed, and Piper's house reached at last and held. 
Francis C. Barlow was given that day two regiments — 
the Sixty-first and Sixty-fourth New York. By quick 
maneuvering he caught and captured 300 prisoners in 
the deep road. General Eichardson was mortally 
wounded near that place. 

There was not much infantry engagement on our 
part of the field after one o'clock, but the artillery was 
unceasing all along the lines. Hancock was quickly 
sent to command Richardson's division. For one more 
trial Slocum's division under Franklin's instructions 
formed lines of attack. They made ready for another 
desperate charge through those " West Woods " and 
up to the Bunker Church. But Sumner just then hur- 
ried one of its brigades to the right and thus created 
a delay. In a few mmutes after this Sumner took a 
fuller responsibility and ordered Franklin out again 
to attempt to carry those fatal woods. 

Sumner shortly after this order to Franklin had 
planned a general advance. His adjutant general and 
aids had distributed the order to four corps, what were 
left of them, and had cavalry ready to help. All were 
to start simultaneously at a given signal. All were 
waiting — but there was an unexpected halt. Sumner 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

consulted with McClellan, and then concluded not to 
risk the offensive again, and so the work for Septem- 
ber 17th for our center and right was substantially 
closed. Sumner's purpose and McClellan's plan for 
the early morning of this day, to have Hooker, Mans- 
field, Sumner, and, finally, Franklin go into battle in 
echelon by division from right to left as far as possi- 
ble, was wise. We have seen how the scheme was 
marred simply in the execution. Hooker was ex- 
hausted before Mansfield began. Mansfield was dis- 
placed and had fallen when Sedgwick went singly into 
battle. I, replacing Sedgwick, was back on the defen- 
sive when French entered the lists far off to my left; 
while, in conjunction with French, Eichardson alone 
touched the right spot at the right time. Franklin and 
the batteries were only in time and place to prevent 
disaster. Simultaneous action of divisions with a 
strong reserve would have won that portion of the 
field, but there was no simultaneous action. 

Down by the Burnside bridge was a rise of ground 
on our side. The enemy there, after Lee had arranged 
his defense, consisted in the main of D. R. Jones's 
division and Toombs's brigade in support of abundant 
artillery. The guns, well placed, swept the road and 
other approaches. All the country behind them and 
to their left was favorable to prompt reenforcement. 
On our bank Burnside's officers of artillery posted a 
battery of twenty-pounder Parrotts and another of 
smaller guns, covering the highest knoll, hoping for 
unusual execution. Crook's brigade of Scammon's 
division stretched upstream to the right, with Sturgis's 
division formed in his rear. Rodman's division, with 
Hugh E wing's brigade behind it, extended down the 
Antietam. Pleasonton, commanding and supporting 


The Battle of Antietam 

by cavalry several batteries, together with Sykes's 
division of Porter's corps, held all the ground between 
Burnside and Richardson. Our Willcox's division and 
the reserve artillery were kept back for emergencies. 
There was only the Ninth Corps on the left. Burnside 
with Hooker away simply commanded Cox. The Ninth 
Corps that day had virtually two heads, Burnside and 
Cox. At 7 A.M. of the 17th McClellan ordered Burn- 
side to prepare to assault and take the bridge, but, 
when ready, to wait for his word. The troops were 
put in place. Every good spot was occupied by favor- 
ing cannon. McClellan at eight o'clock sent the word. 
Why, nobody knows, but Burnside, standing with Cox, 
did not receive the order till nine o'clock. He then di- 
rected Cox to execute it. Cox went to the front to 
watch for results, and in person set Crook's bri- 
gade, backed up by Sturgis's division, to charge and 
see if they could not force a crossing. Two columns 
of four abreast were to rush over under the rak- 
ing fire and then divide right and left. Meanwhile 
Eodman's division, forcing the ford below, must 
charge Toombs's Confederates out from behind a 
stone wall. 

Crook got ready, covered his front with skirmish- 
ers, and pushed for the river, reaching it above the 
bridge. The fire of cannon and musketry from beyond 
was so worrisome that his men halted and that assault 

Next, after some delay. Cox tried Sturgis's divi- 
sion. The Sixth New Hampshire and the Second 
Maryland were each put into column. They charged, 
but the enemy's sweeping fire broke them up. 

The Fifty-first New York and Fifty-first Pennsyl- 
vania were next arranged for a forlorn hope. To help 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

them one of our batteries tried fast firing. It created 
smoke and noise and sent screeching shells to occupy 
Confederate attention, while the rush was made. At 
last a part of our men were over. 

Following this lead the troops of Sturgis and 
Crook passed the bridge, and driving the enemy back 
formed with speed in good order on the west bank. 

Rodman had been led off by false or ignorant 
guides down the Antietam. After search and experi- 
ment he discovered a ford, successfully made his cross- 
ing and came up on the other bank as ordered. The 
daring work was done, but it had taken four good 
hours to accomplish it, so it was already one o'clock. 
The hard contest all along our line northward was 
then substantially over; thus Lee was able to reenforce 
against Cox, and further, A. P. Hill's Confederate di- 
vision, en route from Harper's Ferry, was not far 
from Sharpsburg. 

Again, as if to favor Lee, Burnside had further de- 
lay. The excessive firing before and after crossing the 
Antietam had exhausted the ammunition of the lead- 
ing division, so that Burnside had to send over Will- 
cox's command to make replacement, which consumed 
another precious hour. Considering that the Confed- 
erate D. R. Jones had kept rifle shots and shells flying 
against Cox's lines, it was a difficult business, after so 
long halting, to form and send forward attacking and 
charging brigades. 

As soon as ready, urged by repeated orders 
brought by McClellan's staff officers and forwarded 
by Burnside from his rise of ground. Cox went for- 
ward. Willcox and Crook, carrying Jones's front, 
made for the village ; but Rodman, to the left, was de- 
layed by Toombs; and Cox had to meet a strong re- 


The Battle of Antietam 

enforcement of A. P. HilPs corps, which had just 

Sturgis, however, seized a hostile battery and 
marched on through the town, while Crook was giving 
him good support. A victory seemed already gained"^ 
but it was not secure. Rodman's check, of course^ 
created separation and weakness in Cox's corps. At 
that very juncture, A. P. Hill deployed more and more 
of his strong force before Sturgis and Crook and com- 
menced firmg and advancing rapidly. He first recap- 
tured the Confederate battery just taken, and caused 
Cox's right to leave the village and the important van- 
tage ground he had so happily obtained. Rodman's 
division was in this way doubly checkmated, and he, 
one of our best New England men, once under my com- 
mand with the Fourth Rhode Island, was slain. His 
troops, thus defeated, fell back in haste. 

Nearer the river Cox took up a strong defensive 
position, re-formed his corps, and prevented further 

Lee's generalship at Antietam could not be sur- 
passed; but while McClellan's plans were excellent, the 
tactical execution was bad. Had all of the right' col- 
umn been on the spot where the work was to begin, 
Sumner, seizing Stuart's heights by the Potomac, could 
have accomplished the purpose of his heart— to drive 
everythmg before him through the village of Sharps- 
burg and on to Burnside's front. Of course, Burn- 
side's move should have been vigorous and simul- 
taneous with attacks on the right. McClellan so 
intended. We had, however, a technical victory, for 
Lee withdrew after one day's delay and recrossed the 
Potomac. Porter's corps, following closely, lost heav- 
ily at the Shepherdstown ford— so that every part of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

our army except Couch's division, which after its late 
arrival was only exposed to artillery fire, suffered 
great loss at the battle of Antietam. 

Longstreet says that Antietam was " the bloodiest 
single day of fighting of the war." The Confederate 
loss in Maryland was 12,601 ; while ours at Antietam 
alone, including prisoners, was 12,410. 

While, with a view to avoid their mistakes in the 
future, we may study the faults and omissions of the 
brave men who here contended for the life of the Ee- 
public, let us not blame them, for there were often co- 
gent reasons — hindrances and drawbacks which after 
many years no one can remember. 




THE night of September 17th my headquarters were 
near the " East Woods." I slept on the ground 
under a large tree. Just as I lay down I saw several 
small groups stretched out and covered with blankets, 
face and all. They appeared like soldiers sleeping to- 
gether, two and two, and three and three, as they often 
did. In the morning as the sun was rising and light- 
ing up the treetops, I arose, and, noticing my compan- 
ions still asleep, observed them more closely. Seeing 
that they were very still, I approached the nearest 
group, and found they were cold in death. The lot fell 
to my division, with some other troops, to remain be- 
hind on the sad field and assist in burying the dead. 
The most troublesome thing, and that which affected 
our health, was the atmosphere that arose from the 
swollen bodies of the dead horses. We tried the ex- 
periment of piling rails and loose limbs of trees upon 
them and setting the heap on fire. This, however, for 
a time, made matters worse, as the dreadful stench 
appeared to be only increased in volume, and there 
being no strong wind, it settled in the valley of the 

The 22d, our sad and sickening task being done, the 
men of my division moved out toward Harper's Ferry, 
and quickly took up the swinging gait as they tramped 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

along the hard roadway. As is usually the case after 
a military funeral, the quick march soon restored the 
spirits of the men. We crossed the Potomac and en- 
camped with the remainder of our army corps on Boli- 
var Heights. 

The main purpose which McClellan now had in 
view was to recruit his army, fill up the depleted regi- 
ments and batteries, and gather from the country, far 
and near, a sufficient number of horses to replace those 
killed in battle and worn out in service. The discour- 
agements and homesickness that had attacked us at 
one time on the peninsula and at another time at Fal- 
mouth, had suddenly fallen upon Lee's army during 
the campaign. But on the Opequon, the thousands of 
half -sick, straying men, strolling along from Sharps- 
burg to Richmond, had been cheered and refreshed by 
the numerous zealous secession families along their 
route, so that soon the tide set back, and these, to- 
gether with those who had recuperated from their 
wounds on jDrevious fields, some 20,000 altogether, re- 
turned to give new heart and vigor to Lee's army. 

In answer to McClellan' s joyful dispatch, announc- 
ing that Maryland was entirely freed from the pres- 
ence of the enemy, Halleck replied coldly : " We are 
still left entirely in the dark in regard to your own 
movements and those of the enemy." 

McClellan, deeply chagrined that Halleck had no 
praise for our achievements, yet dispatched to him in 
detail with feeling the urgent wants of his army. 

While such controversies were going on, from the 
battle of Antietam till October 26th, the main body of 
the army was located between Harper's Ferry and the 
mouth of the Monocacy. McClellan's headquarters 
were near Berlin. During our interval of rest I re- 


Burnside Assumes Command of Army of Potomac 

member to have been placed upon courts of inquiry 
and upon courts-martial. One very interesting court 
on which I served was that demanded by General Cald- 
well, my successor after my wound and absence. 

We looked into all the charges of misconduct 
and could find really nothing against this worthy 

About the same time, October 1st, President Lin- 
coln came to see us. He was received everywhere with 
satisfaction, and at times with marked enthusiasm, as 
he reviewed the troops. At Harper's Ferry I saw him 
and heard him relate a few of his characteristic anec- 
dotes. He noticed a small engine run out from the 
bridge, through the village of Harper's Ferry, below 
the bluff, which gave a peculiarly shrill and mournful 
whistle as its shadow fled rapidly around a hill and 
passed out of sight. Mr. Lincoln inquired what was 
the name of that little engine. When told the name, al- 
luding to the panic and terror at the time of John 
Brown's visit to Harper's Ferry, he said that, in honor 
of the Virginians of that day, it might well have been 
named "The Skeered Virginian." He admired the 
horsemanship of Captain Whittlesey, and when some 
one said, " That officer was lately a parson," he looked 
pleasantly after him as he galloped off to carry some 
order, and remarked, as if to himself, "Parson? He 
looks more like a cavalier." Thus humorously, and 
with seldom a smile on his sad face, he moved around 
among us. 

On October 6, 1862, after his return to Washington, 
President Lincoln directed our army to cross into Vir- 
ginia and give battle to the enemy while the roads were 
good. He thought, as he always had before, that we 
might move along east of the Blue Eidge, and he prom- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ised a reenforcement of 30,000 men, provided this be 

I had returned to the field, to encounter extraordi- 
nary excitement, exposure, and hardship, too soon 
after losing my arm ; for just after the President's re- 
view I was taken ill with a slow fever; and, under 
medical advice, I obtained a twenty-days' sick leave 
and left Harper's Ferry for home. But by the time I 
reached Philadelphia my fever abated and my appetite 
returned — in fact, I was so thoroughly convalescent 
that I was almost disposed to turn back to the army, 
yet, judging by the past few weeks, I concluded that 
there would be no movement; so, to gather further 
strength from the change and the journey, I made a 
brief visit to my family in Maine, and then hastened 
back to my post. I reached Harper's Ferry November 
5, 1862, about ten o'clock at night. My brigade sur- 
geon, Dr. Palmer, being left behind in charge of the 
sick and wounded, gave welcome to Captain Whittle- 
sey and myself, and kept us for the night. 

The army had gone. McClellan had decided to take 
President Lincoln's suggestion and move east of the 
Blue Eidge. 

On the morning of the 6th, with a borrowed horse 
and an old ambulance, Whittlesey and I crossed the 
Shenandoah and pulled on with all the speed we could 
command after the army. We rode up the Catoctin 
Valley over an unguarded road. From the poor con- 
dition of our horse we had to be satisfied with thirty- 
five miles the first day. The next day, the 7th, getting 
an early start, we made Rectortown by 11 a.m. Owing 
to a severe snowstorm, that portion of the army near 
Eectortown and the general headquarters did not stir. 
Immediately upon my arrival I visited General Mc- 


Burnside Assumes Command of Army of Potomac 

Clellan; found him and his adjutant general, Seth Will- 
iams, together in a comfortable tent. From them I re- 
ceived a cordial welcome. McClellan thought I must 
be a Jonah to bring such a storm and was half minded 
to order me back. He said that they were talking of 
me and were really glad to see me. I went thence to 
our corps, and was pleasantly welcomed by our new 
commander. General Couch, and very soon fell into the 
old place — the headquarters of the second division. 
Here, surrounded by my staif , I was in heart again, for 
it had been a great cross to arrive at Harper's 
Ferry and find the army several days ahead of me, and 
in the enemy's front, for the march had commenced the 
morning of October 26th. There had been slight 
changes in commanders — Couch having our corps (the 
Second) and Slocum the Twelfth; Sumner remaining 
in charge of the two. The Fifth and Sixth Corps re- 
tained the same chiefs. Porter and Franklin, each hav- 
ing been enlarged to three divisions. Willcox, taking 
the Ninth, had succeeded Eeno (killed in battle), and 
John F. Eeynolds had the First Corps in place of 
Hooker (wounded). These two (the First and Ninth) 
were still under Burnside's direction. The new troops 
promised from the defenses of the capital were com- 
manded by Sigel, Heintzelman, and Bayard, the latter 
having only one division of cavalry. General Sum- 
ner's command was immediately divided. The Twelfth 
Corps was left behind to guard the fords of the Upper 
Potomac. When the army started, though the rain 
was falling in torrents, the main body, now brisk, 
hardy, and hopeful, had pressed on rapidly up the val- 
ley of the Catoctin, a valley situated between the Blue 
Ridge and the Bull Run range. Our corps, followed 
by the Fifth, had crossed the Shenandoah near its 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

moutli and passed directly into the little valley, which 
was to be the general route of the army. Pleasonton's 
cavalry was in advance, and occupied successively the 
gaps in the Blue Eidge. The different corps were kept 
within supporting distance of each other during the 
march, yet by the time the rear guard had crossed the 
Potomac, on November 2d, the head of column was 
already in the vicinity of Snicker's Gap. Mr. Lincoln's 
policy proved correct. General Lee, with Longstreet's 
wing, with very little cavalry, made a parallel march 
up the Shenandoah, so that by the time we had touched 
Snicker's Gap, two of the passes of the Blue Ridge far- 
ther up — Chester's and Thornton's — were even then in 
use by Lee passing the material and troops of the en- 
emy to the vicinity of Culpeper. 

Thus the army was quietly transferred to the vi- 
cinity of the Manassas Gap Railroad. Sigel's Eleventh 
Corps, and part of Heintzelman's, with Bayard's cav- 
alry, had marched out from Washiagton and were 
holding Thoroughfare Gap, New Baltimore, and War- 
renton Junction. 

Reynolds's corps was at Warrenton, Willcox's at 
Waterloo ; ours (the Second) at Rectortown, while Por- 
ter's and Franklin's were not far in the rear, toward 
Upperville — McClellan's headquarters being at Rec- 

Whatever bold project was in Lee's or Jackson's 
mind, it certainly had been interrupted by McClellan's 
holding his main body so tenaciously west of the Bull 
Run range. 

One may imagine my surprise and sincere regret 
when I heard, on arrival, that McClellan had been re- 
moved, and Burnside assigned to the command of the 



Burnside Assumes Command of Army of Potomac 

The evening of the 6th, General Buckingham, an 
officer on duty in the War Office, had been made, by 
General Halleck and Secretary Stanton, the bearer of 
dispatches. Buckingham went during the 7th to Burn- 
side to urge his acceptance of the command. Burnside 
at first made strenuous objections, claiming his pleas- 
ant relations with McClellan, and insisting on his own 
unfitness. But finding that McClellan would be re- 
lieved in any event, he finally, with considerable reluc- 
tance, yielded to Mr. Stanton's wish. The two then 
rode to Salem, and, taking the cars, were soon in Rec- 
tortown. Buckingham says : " About eleven o'clock we 
found him alone in his tent examining papers, and as 
we both entered together he received us in his kind and 
cordial manner." 

Burnside betrayed more feeling than McClellan. 
The latter, after reading the dispatch, passed it to 
Burnside, and said simply : " You command the army." 

In order to complete the concentration of the army 
in the vicinity of Warrenton, McClellan's orders, al- 
ready prepared, were issued and executed. My com- 
mand made a march of eight miles during November 
8th; this brought us to the neighborhood of Warren- 
ton, where we encamped in a ravine to shelter our- 
selves from a severe wind storm. The next morning I 
turned out my troops and drew them up beside the 
road to give a parting salute to General McClellan. 
He rode along the line, the tattered colors were low- 
ered, the drums beat, and the men cheered him. Burn- 
side rode quietly by his side. At my last interview 
McClellan said to me : " Burnside is a pure man and 
a man of integrity of purpose, and such a man can't 
go far astray." 

One other remark I have preserved : " I have been 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

long enough in command of a large army to learn the 
utter insignificance of any man unless he depend on a 
Power above." 

It is easy to see why the officers and soldiers were 
so much attached to McClellan. 

Soon after this interview I met Burnside, who ap- 
peared sad and weary. He had been for two nights 
almost without sleep. He remarked in my presence 
that he had concluded to take the command of the 
army, but did not regard the subject as one for con- 

It is impossible to predict with certainty what a 
man will become under the weight of a new responsi- 
bility. Every officer of rank in our war doubtless had 
some thought beyond his immediate command, some 
plan of operations in mind based upon the circum- 
stances of his surroundings ; but the instant he had the 
whole authority put upon him he saw everything in a 
new light. His knowledge of the force to be used be- 
came more complete, and of the force to be opposed 
much enlarged; and the risks to be run presented 
themselves as practical questions, no longer as mere 

Thus when Burnside at Warrenton came to com- 
mand the Army of the Potomac, then over 100,000 
strong, his whole character appeared to undergo a 
change. A large, brave, prepossessing man, popular 
with his associates, he was accustomed to defer greatly 
to the judgment of his chosen friends. 

When the proposal of command first met him he 
expressed a self -distrust and declined. Indeed, he was 
urged to shoulder the burden, and at last did so. When 
it became necessary to submit a plan of campaign to 
Washington without delay, he was forthwith astonish- 


Burnside Assumes Command of Army ol Potomac 

ingly decided. The obvious course mapped out by Mc- 
Clellan would not do for him — he rejected that. He 
then proposed ostensibly to maneuver toward Chester 
Gap and Culpeper as McClellan had been doing, but 
really to turn these maneuvers into feints. Under 
their cover, behind the blind of sundry marchings, 
skirmishes, and cavalry raids, he would transfer his 
army straightway to Falmouth, cross the Eappahan- 
nock to Fredericksburg, seize the heights beyond, and 
hold them preparatory to future movements. That 
was Burnside's plan of campaign. Who could say 
before the trial that it was not a good one? 

To execute demanded prompt preparation. The 
docks near the Potomac at Aquia Creek needed re- 
building, and the railway thence to Falmouth must be 
repaired. Our pontoon bridges, left at Harper's Ferry 
and Berlin, must be transferred to the Rappahannock. 

Halleck, after a visit to Burnside, promised, if his 
plan and method should be accepted, to look after 
docks, railway, and pontoon bridges. He then re- 
turned to the President. Mr. Lincoln said : " Adopt 
Burnside's plan; there is a chance of success if he 
moves quickly." 

Burnside unwisely left two most important things 
to Halleck, one of which was vital: the repair of the 
railway and forwarding his pontoon train. Unless he 
could deceive Lee as to his intentions, the problem 
would reduce itself simply to a race of the two armies 
for the Fredericksburg Heights, Without the bridges, 
unless by some singular providence the river should 
be fordable at Falmouth on his arrival, a single day's 
delay for the means of crossing would be fatal to Burn- 
side's enterprise, however swiftly he might move his 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

On November 15, 1862, Bumside's marcli for Fal- 
mouth began. The right grand division of two corps 
under Sumner introduced the rapid movement. The 
first day, however, my division in the lead was per- 
mitted to make only thirteen miles, so necessary was it 
to get Sumner's command together and well in hand. 

We were off early the next day, one division of our 
corps in the road and the other two abreast in the 
fields, mine on the left. The pioneers kept well ahead 
of the side columns to clear away the brush, cut the 
small trees, and throw down the fences. The road was 
dry and the weather fine. 

Our march was to-day (Sunday, the 16th) more 
than the Hebrew Sabbath day's journey, for we made 
twenty miles and encamped at Spotted Tavern, only 
thirteen miles from Falmouth. 

On the morrow our grand division, Sumner himself 
close to the front and full of his accustomed sanguine 
hope, pushed on to the Stafford Hills, and began to 
descend them near Falmouth, in plain sight of Fred- 
ericksburg. A small detachment of the enemy, with a 
few pieces of artillery, met our advance guard at the 
town and began firing upon us. A brigade of ours, 
with a single battery quickly ready, cleared the neigh- 
borhood. One solid shot from Fredericksburg oppo- 
site struck the wheel of an artillery carriage near me 
and broke it, but the fire from beyond the river was 
nervous and panicky, and the hostile defenders but few 
in number. Seeing our troops cor ing steadily on, the 
Confederates soon abandoned the shore line and fled, 
so that we quietly occupied the left bank and the town 
of Falmouth. 

After the enemy's detachment had disappeared 
from our view behind the houses of Fredericksburg, 


Burnside Assumes Command of Army of Potomac 

one of Sumner's officers saw a steer start from the 
south side and wade slowly across to the north bank 
of the Eappahannock. The commander of the leading 
brigade, Colonel Brooke, whose attention was called to 
the fact, went to the animal and measured the height 
the water had reached on his side; it did not exceed 
three feet. This being reported to Sumner, he dis- 
patched a letter to Burnside, asking permission to 
cross immediately and seize the heights beyond the 
city. Burnside answered : " Wait till I come." When 
he came forward and looked at the broad river, the 
rough river bed and swift current, he decided that the 
risk of crossing before his bridges were in sight would 
be too great. "No, Sumner," he said; "wait for the 

The bridges were not there, and not likely to be at 
Falmouth for several days ; but the ford was practica- 
ble, the town and heights but weakly occupied, and the 
ability of Sumner's command fully equal to the enter- 
prise. Forty thousand men could have crossed before 
dark on that Monday, made a strong bridgehead on 
the lower plane of the right bank and, intrenching 
Marye Heights beyond the city against Lee's ap- 
proach, have had within twelve hours rejoisted and re- 
planked the denuded railway piers for use for supply 
or reenforcement from the Falmouth side. 

The left grand division (Franklin's) encamped a 
few miles north of us at Stafford Court House ; while 
the center grand division (Hooker's) was halted eight 
miles above us. Hooker, not to be outdone by Sumner, 
soon entreated Burnside to allow him to cross the river 
near his own bivouac, that he might move down and 
seize tl^e Fredericksburg Heights. This request was 
too late. We had had a heavy rain and the river was 




Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

rising rapidly. Still, Hooker's project would have been 
better than the one we adopted. 

The inhabitants of the country were too zealous for 
Confederate success to leave Lee long in ignorance of 
Burnside's doings. Even the skillful pretensions of 
our cavalry did not deceive him. He had word at once 
of our starting. Stuart, turning Pleasonton's right, 
made a reconnoissance in force, which confirmed the 
previous intelligence that the Army of the Potomac 
had changed its base from Warrenton Junction to 
Aquia Creek. Before Stuart's assurance came to Lee, 
he had dispatched troops to Marye Heights and vicin- 
ity. Cavalry, artillery, and two divisions of infantry, 
under McLaws and Ransom, with Longstreet in chief 
command, were hurried forward, arriving on the 18th 
and 19th. They reoccupied and fortified the best 
Fredericksburg positions, and with no little anxiety 
as they beheld our extension and preparations, waited 
for the arrival of their main body. 

The story of the moving of the bridge train from 
Harper's Ferry and Berlin to our front at Falmouth 
is a strange one. It seems to indicate, judging by the 
uncalled-for delays, the misunderstandings, changes of 
orders, and going into depot for repairs near Wash- 
ington, the uncertainty as to the route to be chosen, 
and final inadequacy of the transportation provided, 
that Halleck himself was playing a part, and possibly 
hoping to get Burnside well into winter quarters with- 
out anybody being particularly to blame. 

The detail which fretted Burnside would be amus- 
ing, were it not so serious a matter. 

Major Spaulding, in charge of the large pontoon 
train, took up his bridges at Harper's Ferry and vicin- 
ity fairly well; arrived with them at Washington, the 


M'',, hun.. 




Major General Howard's Commission from President Lincoln, 


Burnside Assumes Command of Army of Potomac 

19th, and reported to Ms chief (of the engineers), Gen- 
eral Woodbury. Woodbury put him off a day; the 
next day when he came to the office Woodbury told him 
he must see Halleck first ; that conference sent Spauld- 
ing into depot and camp near Anacostia. Burnside, 
the 15th, called for his promised bridges by a telegram 
to Halleck; Spaulding then received an order to send 
one train by land and forty boats by water; the boats 
which went by water were sent off to Belle Plain, but 
without wagons or mules. They were there helpless 
ten miles away from Burnside. Major Spaulding at 
Anacostia at last secured sufficient transportation, and 
the 19th in the afternoon started from Washington. 
Now heavy rains began and his roads were fearful; 
he then wisely took waterways for the whole, and ar- 
rived at Belle Plain the 24th. He now moved up in 
good shape and was handsomely in camp at evening 
on November 25th, close by Bumside's headquarters. 

As it required thirteen days to do a piece of work 
which could easily have been done in three days, it 
would be a marvelous stretch of charity to impute it 
to mere bungling. 

Had Woodbury and Spaulding in the outset been 
properly instructed by Halleck, those bridges would 
have been near at hand the 17th on our arrival. 
Spaulding would have reported to Sumner at once and 
in less than an hour would have been pushing out his 
boats from our front. 

Of course it was now plain enough to Burnside that 
his primary plan had been defeated. Goaded by his 
disappointment and spurred by the popular expecta- 
tion that he had awakened by his prompt marches, 
Burnside decided to move down the river fourteen 
miles, surprise his enemy, and effect a crossing at that 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

point, but Lee was too vigilant for that, or, indeed, for 
any crossing without sharp resistance. Too many eyes 
from the opposite shore beheld our reconnoitering par- 
ties; and as soon as preparations for bridging began 
at any place a strong force was immediately on hand 
to dispute the passage. Seeing this, Bumside's second 
project was necessarily abandoned. 

Then, suddenly, our general took a new thought. 
It was to do as most great generals in history had 
done — after getting up sufficient supplies for use, 
present and prosjDective, then move straight forward 
upon the enemy's works. The chances in all such 
hardy enterprises were better where there was no river 
to be crossed, and when the works to be assailed were 
not so hopelessly strong as were those upon the Fred- 
ericksburg Heights. 

Lee, who could hardly before this have dreamed of 
our crossing in his direct front, must have smiled at 
our folly. Bumside chose three points for his pon- 
toons — one in front of my division near the Lacy 
house ; another farther down, opposite the lower part 
of the city, and a third a mile below. 

As the time drew near for laying the bridges I as- 
cended the Stafford Hills, where General Hunt had 
placed Bumside's numerous cannon so as to cover the 
bridge approaches. The Confederate lines, of which 
I had glimpses here and there, appeared to be drawn 
up in a semicircle along the Fredericksburg Heights. 
The heights touched the Eappahannock a mile above 
the city 'and, going back, extended with their knolls, 
woods, and slopes southward all along my front, leav- 
ing between them and the wide river, besides the city, 
much undulating open ground. The Marye Hill was 
about the middle of the curve. South of the Marye 


Burnside Assumes Command of Army of Potomac 

Hill the ridge ended; thence there stretched farther 
southward a wooded space of lower ground ; again an- 
other abrupt height, the highest part of which was 
named Prospect Hill; then the high land gradually 
sloped off to the Massaponax, a tributary of the Eap- 
pahannock which, running easterly, bounded Lee's 
position and covered his right flank. After taking a 
good look at this suggestive landscape, I wrote a friend 
December 10th : " Before you get this letter you will 
have the news of a battle. I try to rely on the Sav- 
iour in these trying hours. ... I have no forebodings 
of disaster, but I know the desperate nature of our 
undertaking." I was unusually sad in the prospect 
of that battlefield, sad for my men and for my per- 
sonal staff. Experience had already taught me its 

There was already murmuring among the officers in 
general and they were not overcareful in what they 
said. Some spoke against the administration, and 
sharply condemned the change of commanders, and 
openly expressed distrust of Burnside. Scraps of this 
adverse talk came to his ears. The night of the Monday 
in which I was surveying Lee's semicircle, Burnside 
called to him a number of us subordinates, field and 
staff. He addressed a roomful with very pertinent and 
pointed remarks, saying substantially : " I have heard 
your criticisms, gentlemen, and your complaints. You 
know how reluctantly I assumed the responsibility of 
command. I was conscious of what I lacked ; but still 
I have been placed here where I am and will do my 
best. I rely on God for wisdom and strength. Your 
duty is not to throw cold water, but to aid me loyally 
with your advice and hearty service. . . ." 

In noting at the time this conference, I said con- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ceming Bumside's address : " Solemn, noble, manly, 
and Christian were his remarks." 

Burnside, thus pressed with the shafts of bitterness, 
having neither warm sympathy nor kindly advice, 
steeled himself to leave everything to the maze of bat- 
tle and went on to prepare the way for the sacrifice. 

Sumner's grand division broke camp and marched 
to convenient points for the bridges that were to lead 
into Fredericksburg, where the engineers proposed to 
push out the pontoons and plank them. 

Hooker's grand division was held a little back of 
Sumner's for support ; while Franklin moved his to the 
lower crossing. 

At the early hour of three on the morning of 
December 11th, under the veil of a thick fog, the ener- 
getic engineer soldiers began their work. Some of our 
infantry under my eye was located close at hand to 
guard the working parties. The artillerymen on the 
heights behind me also contributed their portion as 
soon as they could see. One of Franklin's bridges was 
laid by 2.30 in the morning, and the other, close by, was 
finished at a later hour. 

Our engineer battalion throwing out our bridge 
was not so successful. At about eight o'clock I de- 
tached Hall's whole brigade to assist it in every way 
possible. Putting in the boats one by one, the engi- 
neers had worked out their bridge about one-third of 
the way, when the fog thinned and the Confederate 
pickets, deeply intrenched on the other bank, began to 
fire upon our bridgemen with accuracy. The workers 
soon desisted, ran back, and abandoned their boats. 
Their officers commanded, went before them, and en- 
treated, but all to no eifect. There were just then few 
hopeful chances for bridgemen ! Now the roar of our 


Bumside Assumes Command of Army of Potomac 

artillery behind ns became deafening. It poured shot 
and shell by concentrated firing upon those Confeder- 
ate pickets and upon the sharpshooters in the edge of 
the town; but these active opponents were too well 
covered in houses, cellars, behind walls and buildings, 
and in deeply dug pits to be much disturbed. Neither 
musketry nor artillery, abundant as they were, less- 
ened the enemy's galling fire. 

Burnside came to our front in the afternoon and, 
noticing that the whole force in that vicinity was in 
waiting, sent for Woodbury and Hunt. Woodbury 
showed him the impossibility of getting any farther, 
now that the fog had cleared away and that his bridge- 
men had no cover from Confederate riflemen. Hunt 
mentioned the daring feat of crossing in separate 
boats. Burnside said : " Let us do that." I selected 
Hall's brigade of my division for the trial. The in- 
stant Colonel Hall in the presence of his men asked 
who would go ahead in the precarious enterprise. Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Baxter and his entire regiment, the 
Seventh Michigan, volunteered to fill the pontoons. 
Woodbury undertook to get the boats in readiness, but 
the poor workmen, unused to soldiering, made only 
abortive attempts. Two or three would get hold of a 
big boat and begin to move it, but as soon as a bullet 
struck it in any part they would run back. Finally, 
Baxter said that his inen would put the boats into the 
water. His soldiers did that at command, filled them 
with men and shoved off so quickly that the enemy's 
fire became fitful and uncertain. In going across the 
river one man was killed and several wounded, includ- 
ing Baxter himself. For his bravery Baxter was made 
a brigadier general. 

As the boats struck the opposite shore the men dis- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

embarked without confusion and made a successful 
rush for the deep pits, trenches, and cellars. One 
company alone secured thirty-two prisoners. 

The Seventh Michigan had hardly landed and 
seized the obstructions when the Nineteenth Massachu- . 
setts, by the same conveyance, followed in support — M 
next, the Fifteenth Massachusetts and the Fifty-ninth 
New York in succession. 

In this way brave soldiers made a bridgehead, and 
the engineer workmen, less nervous under such a 
screen from danger, soon finished their bridge across 
the Rappahannock. 

My corps commander (Couch) next ordered me to 
take my entire division over and clear that part of the 
town near our advance of all Confederates, and so 
secure a safe transit for the remainder of our corps. 
Two regiments of Hall's and all of Owen's brigade 
crossed the bridge. With a small staff I went over 
with Owen. The hostile guns had found the range, so 
that shells burst uncomfortably near the moving col- 
umn, but none on the bridge were hurt. A regimental 
band, to cheer us on, stood some fifty yards up river 
on the Falmouth side, and were just commencing to 
play when an explosive missile lodged in their midst. 
The bandsmen threw themselves upon their faces to 
avoid the immediate peril, and then ran to shelter. 
After that, our music was confined to cannon, mus- 
ketry, and the shouts of the soldiers. 

Hall pushed straight on; Owen rushed his men 
into the outskirts of the town to the left of Hall, while 
Sully reserved his brigade for the bridgehead nearer 
the river. 

First, Hall's guide was killed ; at the second street 
he met formidable resistance; he found persistency 


Burnside Assumes Command of Army of Potomac 

and exposure of his men necessary to root out his wor- 
risome opponents ; now darkness was approaching and 
he feared too much massing and begged me to stop the 
crossing on the bridge. This I declined to do, and so 
we kept in motion till my division was over. With 
shots to meet from roofs, corners, alleyways, and from 
every conceivable cover, and heavy losses, our division 
succeeded at last in gaining the third street parallel 
with the river, and in securing some prisoners. Here 
I halted for the night and had the pickets carefully es- 

Fredericksburg had been much damaged by Sum- 
ner's bombardment, yet many people remained in the 
city. Men, women, and children who had spent the day 
in cellars now ran to us for protection. There was 
some rioting; some soldiers for sport dressed them- 
selves fantastically in all sorts of apparel, and some 
gave themselves to plunder; but no instance of per- 
sonal abuse or violence to noncombatants came to my 
ears. Several mothers and their children were sent to 
Falmouth for safety. A few men, as usual, found the 
wine cellars and became intoxicated. 

As I was making a night inspection I came upon a 
very hilarious group. Some were playing upon mu- 
sical instruments, while others embellished the music 
with singing and dancing. I remarked to one of the 
group that this was an unusual preparation for battle 
— the battle that all were expecting on the morrow. 
" Ah, general, let us sing and dance to-night ; we will 
fight the better for it to-morrow ! " 

The city bridge below ours had an experience like 
our own. The Eighty-ninth New York of Hawkins's 
brigade bravely crossed in bateaux, surprised and 
captured the Confederate pickets. Hawkins followed 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

up the Eighty-ninth with the rest of his regiments and 
cleared the lower part of the town. 

Hall and I had our headquarters together in an old 
house which had been considerably knocked to pieces 
in the shelling. The situation was so peculiar that I 
did not sleep much. At three in the morning I went 
along the picket line. I found that the enemy had 
withdrawn from our immediate neighborhood. At 
dawn I had Owen and Sully enlarge our space. They 
opened like a fan till they had possession of the whole 
city and had their skirmishers beyond on the first ridge 
near the suburbs. 

Thus far well. Sumner praised our action, giving 
us a handsome compliment for judicious dispositions, 
advancing steadily, sharp fighting, and success in driv- 
ing back the Confederates so as to occupy and hold at 
daylight the entire town of Fredericksburg. 

The remainder of Sumner's grand division (the 
Second and Ninth Corps) during December 12th 
crossed the river; the Second Corps held all the right 
half of the city, the Ninth the left, and connected with 
Franklin's grand division down river. Hooker's grand 
division kept that day to the Falmouth side for sup- 
port and reenforcement. 

During December 12th there was no actual battle; 
but there was considerable artillery practice and some 
brisk skirmishing. 





IN the early morning of the 13th, about 3 a.m., I wrote 
a home letter for my children that is preserved : 

" We are now in a house abandoned by Mr. Knox, 
and near the front line. One or two shells have passed 
clear through the house, but my room is in pretty good 
shape. Charles (Lieutenant Howard) is well and 
sleeping. So are Lieutenant Stinson, Captain Whit- 
tlesey, Lieutenants Steel and Atwood sleeping on the 
floor near me. 

" I am sitting on this floor near a fireplace . . . 
writing on my lap, having an inkstand, candlestick, 
and paper on a large portfolio, with Tom, a little col- 
ored boy, holding up the outer edge. Tom drops to 
sleep now and then, when my candlestick with its light, 
and inkstand with its ink, slip down ; but I wake Tom 
and it is soon all righted." 

That very morning a little later a charming old 
lady saw my staff officers and myself at breakfast, and 
listened to the brief reading of Scripture and morning 
prayer. She seemed much moved. To a remark of 
hers I said that we should conquer in the end. She 
shook her head and rejoined with a look : " You will 
have a Stone wall to encounter. Hills to climb, and a 
Long street to tread before you can succeed." But, 
afterwards, seeing us depart with cheerfulness, like a 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 1 

merchant going to business or a rested workman to his 
shop, as I said good morning, she replied; " Now I fear 
you more than ever, for I had understood that all of 
Lincoln's men were bad. What! So cheerful when 
going straight into battle?" 

About eleven o'clock of December 11th Franklin 
reported to Burnside that the lower bridges were in 
readiness. The latter instructed him to keep his grand 
division where it then was for the present ; but at four 
that afternoon he was directed to cross his whole com- 
mand. The movement over the pontoons began. Be- 
fore many men had reached the south shore Burnside 
changed his orders, sending over, only one brigade, 
Devens's, which deployed and held a position there as 
did Hawkins and I, a mile above. 

On the 12th Franklin's two corps, Baldy Smith's 
and Eeynolds's, completed their crossing before 1 p.m. 
Smith put out two divisions in line of battle, keeping 
one in the rear as a reserve; he then moved forward 
to the old Richmond road, which here was parallel with 
the river and a mile from it. 

Reynolds formed his corps in the same style on 
Smith's left, but refused his line so that he made an 
angle, and rested his left on the Rappahannock. 

Franklin for his entire grand division had far less 
opposition than we who were in the city. There was 
some skirmishing and random shots from Lee's ar- 
tillery during this unfolding operation. Reynolds's 
front now looked directly toward the Massaponax, less 
than a mile away. 

Thus Bumside's army faced that of Lee. During 
the 12th Burnside "visited the different commands 
with a view to determining as to future movements." 
During his visit to Franklin, Franklin strongly ad- 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

vised the use of his whole grand division of 30,000 men 
for assaulting the enemy's right, the assault to begin 
December 13th at daylight. Franklin asked, with a 
view to support, that two divisions of Hooker be sent 
him during the night. Bumside at that time appeared 
to favor this good advice. He promised as he left 
Franklin about dark to send his orders, whatever they 
might be, before midnight. 

As the orders were not received at midnight, 
Franklin sent an aid-de-camp for them. The reply to 
the aid was that they would be ready soon and sent; 
but they did not reach Franklin until about seven 
o'clock of the 13th. Of course it was too late for 
an attack at dawn. The supporting divisions from 
Hooker never came, so that it is plain that Franklin's 
plan was not adopted. Strange as it may appear, 
Bumside was evidently relying on Sumner's grand 
division to make near the Marye Heights the main as- 
sault and so wanted Hooker's command held at the 
upper bridges to reenforce him. 

Beck's Island is above the city. On the south shore, 
opposite this island. Dr. Taylor had his residence on 
high ground. The river road, running north, leaves 
the Eappahannock, opposite Beck's Island, and passes 
over Dr. Taylor's farm. Lee's left rested on this road. 
He crossed the heights thence southeasterly, one height 
being called Stanbury Hill ; his lines next found a more 
level plateau named the Cemetery Hill; and then in 
order the Marye Heights, over which passed the 
Orange Court House road, perpendicular to the river, 
dividing Fredericksburg into halves. In the city it is 
Hanover Street. 

Another roadway leaves the city three blocks 
lower, passes straight out parallel with the plank road 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

till it comes to the higher ground, then, turning to the 
right, courses along beside the Marye Heights and, 
finally, goes off into the country southwesterly. This 
is the telegraph road. There was a connecting street 
near Marye Heights which went from the plank road 
to the telegraph road. This street and a part of the 
telegraph road had a bank wall, the roadbed being a 
few feet below the crest of the wall. It was a Confed- 
erate infantry outwork already prepared. 1 

Near the city the canal which started from the river 
above Beck's Island and ran along the base of the 
heights, continuing in front of the deep cross street 
which I have described, served for the most part as the 
broad ditch of a fortification — an obstacle to our ap- 
proach in itself. The lower part of the canal was more 
like the rough outlet of a creek. On Marye Heights, 
a little back from the street, were dug by the Confed- 
erates and their slaves double intrenchments with 
works in the form of redoubts on the summits behind 
them. The lower ground down river, as we have seen, 
was generally undulating, and wooded to a consider- 
able extent. Lee had a new road constructed behind 
his lines so that his troops could be readily moved from 
one point to another. The strong point of his right 
was " Prospect Hill." Along the foot of this ran the 
Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad which, from a 
point called Hamilton's Crossing, continues north- 
ward, parallel to the river, and enters the city on its 
south side. The old Richmond wagon road which 
Franklin had seized with his leading divisions was also 
parallel to the river and about halfway between it and 
the railway. These two roads each made a right angle 
with the Massaponax. Lee's permanent right flank 
was established upon the Massaponax so that the gen- 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

eral form of his entire line was that of a sickle; the 
high ground forming the handle and the low ground 
occupied in front of the new road and over Prospect 
Hill and on to the bend of the Massaponax forming the 
blade, having the concave edge toward the Eappa- 

Our own lines, more than half enveloped and facing 
Lee's peculiar formation, were straight and parallel 
with the river excepting Eeynolds's corps, which on 
the extreme left faced almost south and was nearly at 
right angles with our main line. 

The Fredericksburg plateau west and southwest of 
the city is divided into three parts by two streams, the 
Hazel and the Deep Eun, each of which has numerous 
branches. Hazel Eun enters the Eappahannock close 
to the city. One branch from behind Marye Heights 
affords an extended, sheltered position in its valley; 
the other stream, the Deep Eun, drains the high 
ground about Prospect Hill and enters the Eappahan- 
nock some distance south of the city. 

Before the arrival of Jackson, Longstreet had 
posted the troops, Anderson's division from Taylor's 
Hill eastward, to include the cemetery; Eansom's hold- 
ing all the lines and works on Marye Heights; Mc- 
Laws's division, coming next, covered all the low 
ground from Hazel Eun to Harrison's place. Pickett, 
with his division's irregular formation, held some 
knolls from which he could sweep all the terrain be- 
tween his front and Deep Eun. Hood at first rested 
his left on the heights and extended his division as far 
as the Fredericksburg Eailroad, in front of Prospect 
Hill, .where were the notable " Walker Batteries." 
Stuart with his cavalry and some artillery watched the 
remainder of the front to the Massaponax. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

As soon as Jackson's forces arrived the morning of 
December 13th, he put A. P. Hill's division into Hood's 
place, arranged so as to form substantially two lines, 
while Early's and Taliaferro's divisions made a third 
line. The division of D. H. Hill, being wearied with a 
night march, was placed farther back, as a general re- 
serve. The general facing of Stonewall Jackson's 
concentrated command was toward the north and the 
northwest, overlooking every approach from the direc- 
tion of Fredericksburg. Hood, as soon as relieved by 
Jackson, changed position to the north side of Deep 
Run and held his forces for use in any direction. 

Longstreet, referring to the long front which he 
commanded, says : " In addition to the natural strength 
of the position, ditches, stone fences, and road cuts 
formed along different portions of the line, and parts 
of General McLaws's Knes were farther strengthened 
by rifle trenches and abatis." 

Burnside's orders to Franklin, which he received at 
so late an hour, were dated 5.50 a.m. General Hardie 
of his staff came to carry the message and remain with 
Franklin. Burnside now directed that the whole grand 
division be held for a rapid movement down the old 
Richmond road. Franklin was to send out at once a 
division to pass below Smithfield, to seize, if possible, 
the heights near Hamilton; crossing the Massaponax, 
the division to be well supported, and to keep open the 
line of retreat. Burnside informed Franklin that an- 
other column from Sumner's grand division would 
move up the plank road to its intersection with the 
telegraph road, where the troops were to divide and 
seize the heights on both sides of these roads. Burn- 
side thought that holding the two heights with the one 
near Hamilton's Crossing would compel the Confeder- 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

ates to evacuate the whole ridge between these points. 
Burnside further said that Hooker's command would 
be in support at the bridges. The division of Franklin 
must move as soon as the fog lifted; the watchword 
for the battle to be given to every company was 
Scott. The special instructions to Sumner were 
dated at 6 a.m. First : Extend to Deep Eun and con- 
nect with Franklin ; push a second column of one divi- 
sion or more along the plank and telegraph roads with 
a view of seizing the heights in rear of the town. Sum- 
ner's movement was not to commence until further 

Hooker's instructions were dated at 7 a.m. Hooker 
was to place Butterfield's corps and Whipple's division 
so as to cross the river at a moment's notice, using the 
three upper bridges. These forces were to be in sup- 
port of Sumner's grand division; the two remaining 
divisions of Stoneman's corps were to be in readiness 
to cross at the lower bridges in support of Franklin. 

To obey his instructions Franklin chose the corps 
of John F. Reynolds, which was made up of three divi- 
sions: 1st, Doubleday's; 2d, Gibbon's; 3d, Meade's. 
Franklin believed, as anybody would, that this fine 
corps was sufficient to carry out the letter and spirit 
of Burnside's new order. Meade's division was taken 
for the assault, and was to be supported on its left by 
Doubleday and on its right by Gibbon. In order to 
give an additional confidence, two divisions of Stone- 
man's corps were brought up from the bridges and 
made a reserve to Reynolds. 

Meade started southward as if to cross the Massa- 
ponax, moved seven or eight hundred yards, and then 
changed face squarely to the right, and directed his 
march upon the " heights " mentioned in his orders. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

The point which was coveted near the Massaponax was 
also not far from Prospect Hill. It was, indeed, on 
Lee's new road and actually behind A. P. Hill's ad- 
vance lines. 

Meade kept on under increased artillery fire from 
right, left, and front, well across the old Richmond 
road. Here his men were delayed in destroying hedges 
and in constructing bridges for his artillery over the 
deep side ditches. 

Meade had a column of two deployed brigades, fol- 
lowed by another in fours ready to deploy. His for- 
mation, to start with, had skirmishers and flankers in 
plenty. Having gone somewhat farther, a Confeder- 
ate battery from Stuart's front opened a troublesome 
fire upon Meade's left. Soon Union artillery ran to 
the place and replied shot for shot. Then a heavy line 
of Confederate skirmishers sprang from the trouble- 
some quarter. The brigade, in fours, faced that way, 
and by rapid firing cleared the field. As soon as 
Meade was rid of that left flank annoyance he ad- 
vanced this third brigade to his left front and brought 
up three batteries to his advanced position. 

Again his command moved forward to encounter 
more hostile cannon now coming from his left front. 
The three Union batteries were turned upon this new 
enemy, and in a short time had exploded two of the 
Confederate caissons and driven their battery men 
from their guns. Success at that time cheered Meade 
and the men of his division. 

Meade was now near what appeared to be a gap in 
the Confederate lines. His men, under his orders, 
rushed forward, first over a cleared field, rapidly driv- 
ing in the enemy's skirmishers ; next succeeded in get- 
ting possession of a piece of woods which jutted out 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

between him and the railroad, and soon his men 
cleared the whole front as far as that railroad. But in 
the neighborhood, taking advantage of embankments, 
ditches, and other cover, the Confederate soldiers in 
solid line were waiting for Meade's approach. Yet, 
with hardly delay enough to take breath, the leading 
Union brigade threw itself upon these strong lines, 
broke them up, and forced them back upon the heights. 
Having already passed A. P. Hill's front, Meade began 
to feel artillery and infantry fire from his right, so that 
while his first brigade sped onward the second bri- 
gade was delayed by changing front and meeting the 
new danger. But this was done. 

Thus Meade worked his way along with delays and 
hard fighting with artillery and infantry to the left of 
him, to the right of him, and finally to the front. At 
one time Meade sent Lieutenant Dehon with instruc- 
tions to the commander of the third brigade (our 
General Jackson) to capture an annoying battery. 
Dehon was killed just as he came to the commander 
and a few minutes later Jackson himself fell. It was 
a great loss, for our brave Jackson had, a few minutes 
before, seized the desired point for which Meade had 
been advancing and contending. The brigade, without 
its commander, subject to an increasing fire, gave back 
little by little and so lost its important hold. Meade 
took more than three hundred prisoners and many bat- 
tle flags. When he most needed it he found small sup- 
port on his right and none on his left, and there was 
none very close in his rear. Feeling that the opposi- 
tion was too strong to be met by but one division, he 
began his retreat, which was executed under fire and 
without confusion. 

When back as far as the edge of the woods near the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

railroad, he found a brigade of Birney's division sup- 
porting some of his batteries, which gave him some 

Gibbon had separated from Meade while advancing 
in the woods. He had a sharp encounter of his own 
to meet and was now in position to succor, more thor- 
oughly than Birney, Meade's breaking and retiring 
lines. Sinclair, who commanded Meade's first bri- 
gade, was badly wounded, and he lost in the action 
22 officers and 496 men. The second brigade aggre- 
gated a loss of 22 officers and 718 men, while our Jack- 
son's brigade suffered a loss of 28 officers and 525 men. 
Meade's artillery lost 5 officers and 25 men. These 
figures indicate the severity of the engagement. 

General Gibbon, wounded during the day, had with 
his division done his utmost to give Meade a flank sup- 
port. He faced a strip of woods strongly occupied by 
Pender's deployed lines. Gibbon endeavored to rush 
Taylor's brigade across an open field into the woods. 
The men got about halfway, when the Confederate ar- 
tillery fire from different directions became so severe 
that the troops took cover by lying down behind a 
slight rise of ground. Now when Meade made his last 
advance, Gibbon, perceiving the effort, sent Taylor for- 
ward again. The Confederates were behind a railroad 
embankment to stop him. The other brigades of Gib- 
bon's division came into line to the left of Taylor. The 
whole Union force in that quarter was at first re- 
pulsed; but now fully aroused, Gibbon gathered as 
many as he could from his reliable regiments and made 
a bayonet charge. This was done with tremendous en- 
ergy and spirit, and the railway was taken with 180 
prisoners. Gibbon, bleeding, was obliged to leave the 
front and Taylor succeeded to his command. 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

Doubleday, to the left of Meade, with his division 
had been occupied all day by the batteries of Walker 
and Stuart, who had other Confederates of all arms to 
support them. This occupation had prevented Meade 
from having any effective help upon his left flank, or 
any reenforcement from that division. 

Meade retired after the hard day to the position 
from which he had set out in the morning. 

The part which our grand division played in this 
battle affords a sorrowful picture. There is nothing 
to relieve its gloom but the excellent conduct of the 
troops under appalling circumstances. 

Eansom, whose Confederate division divided the 
ground with that of McLaws, and held the deep sub- 
urban street and the telegraph road at the base of 
Marye Heights, uses strong language when he speaks 
of our successive efforts to get near his position on 
that deplorable day : " The Yankee line advanced with 
the utmost determination; moved, almost massed, to 
the charge heroically; met the withering fire of our 
Confederate artillery and small arms with wonderful 
stanchness ! " Those attacks would not permit him to 
despise our courage or our hardihood. 

So much for our amour propre, Burnside having 
heard from Franklin and from his own staff officer, 
Hardie, that Meade was gaining important advantage 
on Stonewall Jackson's front, thought that the fullness 
of time had come for Sumner to cooperate. He gave 
the old general the order for which he had been all 
the morning waiting : " Advance and attack ! " 

The Second Corps (Couch's), to which my division 
belonged, was to lead; to direct the main assault be- 
tween the plank and the telegraph roads ; to ascend the 
Marye Heights from that base ; and break through the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Confederate lines, forcing the enemy back and captur- 
ing his batteries. It was a task easy to set but difficult 
even to begin. 

General Sumner prescribed to Couch his favorite 
method : after covering the front with skirmishers, to 
get into action in a column of brigades. The simple 
way was for one brigade to form a long line two ranks 
deep, facing Marye Heights ; follow that brigade by a 
second brigade line, leaving 150 yards' space between 
them; then send on the third brigade, preserving the 
same distance. 

French's division thus formed was to have the ad- 
vance; Hancock's to follow, and after Hancock's, my 
division was to complete the fighting column. 

Close to the Second Corps on our left Willcox's 
Ninth Corps was instructed to move up abreast, to 
keep our left flank clear of any too enterprising Con- 
federates, and to keep up connection with Franklin, oc- 
cupying all the ground between Hazel and Deep Run. 
As we have seen, the Second and Ninth Corps were 
already over the Rappahannock. The instructions 
were clear and well understood. My division, having 
led in taking the town, must now fall to the rear, and 
let another have the post of honor. 

Troops in regiments, brigades, divisions, or corps, 
after some service, show to some extent the character- 
istics of their commanders — their courage, steadfast- 
ness, self-reliance, or their impulsiveness, energy, and 
tenacity of purpose, and, of course, when such defects 
exist, the opposite qualities, nervousness and unre- 

French, who was to lead, very soon gained an as- 
cendency over all officers who were under him, and 
secured from them prompt obedience and hard work. 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

He was often imperious and impatient, but no one 
ever saw his troops, without stragglers, go into action 
without a thrill of admiration for him and his 

A strong skirmish line was first organized. It con- 
sisted of three regiments — one by the flank in column 
of twos went quickly out Hanover Street, crossed the 
canal, and deployed to the left ; the other two in similar 
order crossed the bridge in Princess Ann Street near 
the railway depot, and deployed to the right till their 
open line met the other. As soon as the columns had 
appeared at the bridge the Confederate batteries, 
whose guns were trained on the streets, opened a fear- 
ful discharge. Many of our men were killed or 
wounded before getting into line, but the remainder did 
not falter. They went into place at a run. The en- 
emy's skirmish line now interposed its rapid fire. Our 
men set in motion those skirmishers and drove them, 
following them up for at least 400 yards, breaking 
down fences as they went forward, and traversing 
muddy ground till they struck an abrupt slope and 
lay down behind its crest. It was to them like a 
great rock in a weary land. It afforded such shelter 
from a terrible fire that the temptation was great to 
remain there while shells were bursting over their 
heads, round shot plowing the ground in their front, 
and musketry peppering every yard of the slopes 
beyond them. 

The next brigade, Kimball's, let no time run to 
waste. It was drawn out in line on Caroline Street 
parallel with the river. Mason, who commanded the 
skirmishers, had just left Princess Ann Street when 
Kimball's brigade came on by the flank, passed the 
depot, crossed the canal bridge, and formed line of bat- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

tie behind the skirmish line near the canal bank. The 
enemy's fire during these movements was murderons. 
Shells burst in their ranks, destroying many men at 
each shot; but there was no panic and no disorder. 
Gaps made by wounds and death were quickly filled by 
comrades of battle. The men at command now bounded 
forward and cleared the open space beneath increas- 
ing volleys till French's line of battle stretched from 
road to road. 

Kimball's main line was at last not more than 600 
yards from the perfectly protected Confederate brig- 
ade of General Cobb, which, with other men from Ean- 
som's and McLaws's divisions, filled the deep road- 
way. The hostile skirmishers had been withdrawn. 
Every man in the roadway had loaded his rifle. The 
wall or the banks of fresh earth kept them from Kim- 
ball's sight. As our men moved up the gentle ac- 
clivity, who can describe what followed? More ar- 
tillery than before was detected by the puffs of smoke, 
to the right, to the left, and all along the high ground. 
How rapid, how awful that series of discharges and 
those death-dealing missiles! Still this long, hand- 
some line with bayonets fixed and flags flying were 
steadily moving forward without firing a shot. They 
overtook their own skirmishers and went on. The 
worst was yet to come. As soon as the Confederates' 
abandoned skirmish rifle pits were reached by our men, 
the waiting enemy, as if by a simultaneous impulse, 
gave them volleys of leaden hail which extended from 
the plank road to the east of Marye Heights, against 
which no line of men could move or stand. Kimball's 
rapid advance had secured a little hamlet whose strag- 
gling buildings gave some protection from the Confed- 
erate fire. There Kimball rested his right. As the 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

line could not advance farther, the men covered them- 
selves as well as they could by the buildings and inci- 
dents of the ground, with a purpose to hold what they 
had gained and wait for help. It was here that their 
commander fell with a severe wound in his thigh. The 
next brigade (Andrews's) having but three regiments, 
the fourth being in the skirmish line, followed in the 
same manner according to the order. At the depot and 
the canal it took its turn and received the same dread- 
ful baptism of fire. It pushed on with the same expe- 
rience over the muddy ground and up the slopes, and 
was stopped at about the same point of advance. All 
the colonels present were disabled by wounds, so that 
a lieutenant colonel (Marshall) came to command the 
brigade. The last of French's brigades having also 
but three regiments, Palmer commanding, was de- 
ployed in the street and then followed the same path as 
the others without different results. It appeared at 
the canal; crossing that, the Confederate cannon had 
attained the exact range of the passage, and Palmer 
commends the firmness and bravery of his troops in 
dashing across that barrier. 

To our field glasses French's brave division had 
almost disappeared. 

Hancock's division came next. He sent up two 
regiments to replace two of French's. It was a way of 
renewing ammunition, for it was next to impossible to 
carry it up and distribute it in the ordinary way. 
Zook's brigade led Hancock's division. He deployed 
at the canal, then advanced with great speed, so that 
many of his men gained points beyond former troops 
along the ridge and at the hamlet. 

Some of French's men in rear sprang up and joined 
in the brisk movement. Still they failed to take the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

stone wall, although our dead were left withm twenty- 
five paces of it. 

Meagher's brigade line followed next and suffered 
like the preceding from the continuous and murder- 
ous discharges, but really gained nothing. 

Caldwell commanded the next brigade. With great 
zest and spirit his men went forward and rushed to the 
front, but they accomplished no more than those who 
nad preceded them. These had been my troops at Fair 
Oaks. Their loss on this Fredericksburg front was 
62 commissioned officers and 932 enlisted men. The 
brigade commander was himself wounded. Colonel 
Cross, who subsequently commanded the brigade, was 
also wounded. 

Colonel Nelson A. Miles, having been promoted, 
had left my staff and was commanding two regiments 
in this battle. He received, during the advance, a 
severe wound in the neck. Seated on a stretcher and 
holding the lips of the wound together, he pluckily had 
himself brought to me to show me where he thought I 
could put my troops into action to advantage so as to 
make some impression on the enemy's line. I had just 
before that taken my position on a prominent knoll, and 
had seen the havoc among the two divisions preceding 
mine. From the sunken roadway came an increasing 
storm, bullets flying swift and sure, dealing death 
and wounds to our brave fellows almost without a re- 
turn fire. 

S^ll this the officers of my division fully appre- 
hended, yet, without faltering, that division, in its turn, 
swept forward. Owen's brigade went first and Hall's 
next. I kept Sully's for a time in the edge of the town 
for a reserve, but was soon obliged to send forward one 
regiment after another as Hall and Owen called for 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

help. My regiments began to fire when each in its turn 
reached the general line of battle, so that the rattle of 
musketry for hours was unceasing. 

To help us Hazard's Ehode Island battery came up 
at a trot, crossed the canal, and unlimbered in the open 
ground in the rear of Owen's troops and for a time 
fired with wondrous rapidity. The battery lost so 
many men in a short time that it was ordered back. 
Frank's New York battery followed Hazard's exam- 
ple and endeavored by rapid fire to open the way to 
our infantry for a front attack. But our attempts were 
futile, as had been those of the other divisions. We 
continued, however, to make sundry experiments, hop- 
ing almost against hope to make a lodgment along the 
enemy's front. 

At last Hooker's grand division made its appear- 
ance in our rear. Hooker, himself on the field where he 
could take in the situation, stationed with his field 
glass just north of the canal, sat quietly on his horse. 
I wondered that he was not shot. He pushed in 
Humphrey's excellent division in the same manner as 
the rest. As we ceased firing Humphrey made a 
charge, leading his men in person amid the leaden rain. 
They reached my front line and passed it a short dis- 
tance, where they met a tremendous volley of artillery 
and musketry and, like all the others who had ventured 
near the base of Marye Heights, were broken up and 
forced back. 

Some more efforts were put forth by Hooker's 
troops and by ours, but all in vain, until darkness put 
an end to the hopeless sacrifice. 

My division being the last of the Second Corps to 
go under fire on this fatal day, remained up there in 
close proximity to the foe till far into the night, but at 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

last fresh men from Hooker's command let us return 
to town, one brigade coming in as late as 2 a.m. the 
next day. The loss in my division aggregated 64 offi- 
cers and 813 men. 

All the aids-de-camp had an unusually hard time in 
this conflict. I had a feeling akin to terror when I sent 
an aid or mounted man to carry an order. Lieutenant 
H. M. Stinson, one of my aids, showed such fearless- 
ness under musketry fire that several commanders 
noticed him and mentioned him in their reports; 
so they did Lieutenant A. J. Atwood of my staff. Once 
my brother and aid. Lieutenant Howard, leaving me 
with an order, was obliged to cross the most exposed 
street. On his return he exclaimed, as he rode up, 
" Oh, general, they fired a volley at me, but it passed 
over my head ! " 

The other corps (the Ninth) of our grand division 
was commanded by 0. B. Willcox. Through Sumner, 
Willcox was required to give support to the Second 
Corps (Couch's) on his right hand and to the First 
Corps (Reynolds's) on his left. The word " support " 
is an uncertain one, and often a very unsatisfactory 
one in a battle. The front of the Ninth Corps extended 
from our flank to the left across Hazel to Deep Eun. 
Sturgis's division left the city limits, came under a di- 
rect fire almost immediately from artillery and infan- 
try, marched across a rough ascending slope, and at- 
tained a crest, a close position to the Confederates' 
sheltered line. The division remained there till after 
dark. Once the Confederates attempted to move out 
and turn one of Couch's divisions, when our Ferrero's 
brigade " drove them back to their cover of stone 
walls and rifle pits." Many valuable lives were lost 
m that sharp work. 


Battle of Fredericksburg 

At 3 P.M. W. W. Bums's division crossed Deep Run 
and tried at Franklin's request to give what help it 

By four o'clock Willcox, while the fire was at its 
height, thought he might create some diversion for my 
men who were plainly seen from his point of observa- 
tion, standing near their rough shelter or lying be- 
hind a slight rise in a crest of the upper slope. He 
advanced Getty's division from the shelter of the town. 
Each regiment set out by the flank, went forward, 
marched to open ground, and then deployed into bri- 
gade lines much as we had done; then rushed over a 
plowed field, across the railway cut, the old canal ditch 
and marshy ground. The brigade kept on under the 
usual artillery explosions till within close musketry 
range of the Confederate rifles. Then they underwent 
the same rough handling which our men met farther to 
the right earlier in the day. Getty's brigade was 
forced back to a poor sort of shelter near the canal. 
Willcox's losses aggregated 1,328 officers and men. 

At first, Burnside, saddened by the repulse of his 
attacks in every part of his lines, planned another bat- 
tle for the 14th. His heart naturally went out to the 
old Ninth Corps that he had but lately commanded. 

Willcox brought back Bums's division from Frank- 
lin and prepared the Ninth Corps to make the next 
main assault. Positions for six batteries of artil- 
lery had been carefully selected to break the way for 
the first infantry charge and support it by strong can- 
non firing. But the order for a renewal of the strife 
was first suspended and later countermanded. 

On the 14th, while matters were in suspense, I went 
up into a church tower with Couch, my corps com- 
mander, and had a plain view of all the slope where 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the severest losses of the preceding day had occurred. 
We looked clear up to the suburban street or deep 
roadway and saw the ground literally strewn with the 
blue uniforms of our dead. 

Burnside closed this remarkable tragedy by decid- 
ing to move the night of December 15, 1862, his brave 
but beaten army to the north side of the Eappahan- 
nock. That work of removal was accomplished with- 
out further loss of men or material. 




AFTER the battle of Fredericksburg we returned 
to the same encampments which we had left to 
cross the Rappahannock, and on January 27, 1863, 
orders from the President, dated the day before, placed 
our " Fighting Joe Hooker " in command of the army. 
Burnside, Sumner, and Franklin were relieved. For 
a few days General Couch went to take Sumner's 
place over the grand division. This gave me com- 
mand of the Second Corps. But very soon, among 
the changes made by Hooker, the grand division or- 
ganization was broken up, and I returned to the 
second division of the corps. It would have been very 
wise if Hooker had gone a step further in simplifying, 
and had consolidated his eight corps into four — three 
of infantry and artillery and one of cavalry, with its 
horse batteries. 

Notwithstanding misgivings respecting General 
Hooker, whose California record had been ransacked, 
and whose private conduct had been canvassed, the 
army received him kindly. He had been a little hard, 
in his camp conferences, upon McClellan, and for poor 
Burnside he had shown no mercy. 

My own feeling at that time was that of a want of 
confidence in the army itself. The ending of the penin- 
sular work, the confusion at the termination of the sec- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

end battle of Bull Eun, the incompleteness of Antie- 
tam, and the fatal consequences of Fredericksburg did 
not make the horizon of our dawning future very 
luminous. We had suffered desertions by the thou- 
sands. I brought two commissioned officers about that 
time to trial for disloyal language, directed against 
the President and the general commanding. Mouths 
were stopped, but discontent had taken deep root. 
Hooker, however, by his prompt and energetic meas- 
ures, soon changed the whole tone of the army for the 
better. Desertions were diminished, and outpost duty 
was systematized. The general showed himself fre- 
quently to his troops at reviews and inspections, and 
caused the construction of j&eld works and intrench- 
ments, which, with the drills, occupied the time and the 
minds of the soldiers. The cavalry became a corps, 
and Stoneman was put in command of it. The artil- 
lery reserve, given to General Hunt, was brought to a 
high degree of efficiency. 

In truth, during February, March, and April, the 
old cheerful, hopeful, trustful spirit which had carried 
us through so many dark days, through so many 
bloody fields and trying defeats, returned to the Army 
of the Potomac ; and Hooker's success as a division and 
corps commander was kept constantly in mind as an 
earnest of a grand future. As soon as General Sickles, 
who was then my junior in rank, was assigned to the 
Third Corps, feeling that I had been overlooked, I 
wrote a brief letter to General Hooker, asking to be 
assigned according to my rank. Immediately I was 
ordered to take command of the Eleventh Army Corps, 
which General Sigel had just left. I assumed com- 
mand at Stafford Court House, where General Carl 
Schurz was in charge. My coming sent Schurz back to 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

his division and Schimmelfennig back to his brigade. 
The corps was then, in round numbers, 13,000 strong. 
It had about 5,000 Germans and 8,000 Americans. 
Two divisions were under the German commanders. 
Von Steinwehr and Carl Schurz, and one under Dev- 
ens. One of Devens's brigades was commanded by 
Colonel Von Gilsa, a German officer, who at drills and 
reviews made a fine soldierly appearance. Outwardly 
I met a cordial reception, but I soon found that my 
past record was not known here ; that there was much 
complaint in the German language at the removal of 
Sigel, who merely wanted to have his command prop- 
erly increased, and that I was not at first getting the 
earnest and loyal support of the entire command. But 
for me there was no turning back. I brought to the 
corps several tried officers : for example. General Bar- 
low, to command one brigade in Von Steinwehr' s divi- 
sion, and General Adelbert Ames to take a brigade. 
I had the command drilled and reviewed as much as 
could be done in a few weeks. 

On April 8th the corps of Couch, Sickles, Meade, 
and Sedgwick were reviewed by President Lincoln, ac- 
companied by General Hooker. There was a column 
of about 70,000 men, and it must have taken over two 
hours and a half for them to pass the President. It 
was the largest procession until the last review before 
President Andrew Johnson in 1865. Mrs. Lincoln 
came down from Washington, and the President's two 
sons were at the grand review. The smaller, Tad, rode 
a beautiful pony, and was noticeable for his ability to 
manage him. 

On the 10th Mr. Lincoln came to review my 
corps. The German pioneers had fixed up my tent 
and its surroundings with everything that ever- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

greens and trees could do to make them cheerful. Of 
all this Mr. Lincoln took special notice and ex- 
pressed his admiration. My salute and review were 

Up to April 25th General Hooker had managed to 
keep his plans in his own bosom. True, inferences 
were drawn by everybody from the partial movements 
that were made up and down the river. For example, 
April 13th, Stoneman, started up the Rappahannock 
with his cavalry corps, except Pleasonton's brigade, 
ostensibly to go to the Shenandoah Valley. It was 
my part to send Bushbeck's infantry brigade of Von 
Steinwehr's division in his support as far as Kelly's 
Ford. But the flooding rains again began, and had 
the effect of detaining the whole of Stoneman' s force 
for some days in that neighborhood. Just what he 
was to do we did not then know. 

April 21st, Doubleday, of Reynolds's (First) 
Corps, also started down the river, and went as far 
as Port Conway. He here made sundry demonstra- 
tions which indicated a purpose to try and effect a 
crossing. Colonel Henry A. Morrow with his Michi- 
gan regiment (Twenty-fourth) made another display 
near Port Royal. The Confederate commanders be- 
lieved them to be but feints. These demonstrations 
had, however, the effect of causing Lee to send troops 
down the river to watch our proceedings. Jackson 
went thither in command. 

On April 25th I was instructed to send knapsacks 
and other supplies to Bushbeck at Kelly's Ford, and 
to see that his men had on hand eight days' rations in 
knapsacks and haversacks. The instruction ended 
with this sentence : " I am directed to inform you con- 
fidentially, for your own information and not for pub- 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

lication, that your whole corps will probably move in 
that direction as early as Monday a.m." 

Our army at that time numbered for duty about 
130,000 — First Corps, Reynolds; Second, Couch; 
Third, Sickles; Fifth, Meade; Sixth, Sedgwick; 
Eleventh, Howard; Twelfth, Slocum; cavalry corps, 
Stoneman; reserve artillery, Hunt. 

The Confederate army opposite numbered about 
60,000: four divisions under Stonewall Jackson, two 
(Anderson's and McLaws's) acting separately, and 
Stuart's cavalry. General Pendleton brought the re- 
serve artillery under one head. Anderson's and Mc- 
Laws's belonged to Longstreet's corps, but the re- 
mainder over and above these two divisions was at this 
time absent from the Army of Northern Virginia. 
Lee's forces occupied the Fredericksburg Heights and 
guarded all approaches. His cavalry, with headquar- 
ters at Culpeper, watched his left flank from his posi- 
tion to the Shenandoah Valley. 

The plan of operation determined upon by General 
Hooker, which began to be revealed to his corps com- 
manders little by little in confidential notes, was, first, 
to send his whole cavalry corps, except one division, 
to raid around by our right upon Lee's communica- 
tions ; second, to make a crossing, a feint, and possibly 
an attack, by his left wing at and below Fredericks- 
burg ; third, to start the right wing up the Rappahan- 
nock to the upper fords, cross them, and push rapidly 
to and over the Rapidan via Chancellorsville to the 
heights near Banks's Ford; fourth, to follow up this 
movement with his center ; to throw bridges across and 
below the mouth of the Rapidan at the United States 
Ford, or wherever convenient, and reenforce his right 
wing. The plan was well conceived, except the send- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ing off of his entire cavalry force. But for that there 
is little doubt that, humanly speaking, Lee would have 
been defeated. Stoneman would have curtained our 
movements, occupied the attention of Stuart, guarded 
our right flank, and let General Hooker and his corps 
commanders know what maneuvers of Lee were in 
progress before the wilderness and its deceptive wilds 
had been reached. But at the outset we were divorced 
from this potential helpmate. Pleasonton's brigade, 
which was left to Hooker, was too small to subdivide, 
so that we were usually left to skirmishers, scouts, and 
reconnoissance from the infantry arm to ascertain 
what the enemy was about. From this one mistake 
arose a dozen others, which contributed to our final 

The orders of April 27th made the left wing to con- 
sist of the First, Third, and Sixth Corps, Sedgwick to 

According to instructions, Reynolds took his com- 
mand (the First Corps) to the lower place, near Pol- 
lock's Mills Creek. The Sixth Corps undertook Frank- 
lin's old crossing just below the mouth of the Deep 
Eun. With some little delay and after overcoming the 
enemy's pickets, Wadsworth's division of Eeynolds's 
corps was firmly established on the other shore, and 
the remainder of that corps held at hand. 

The Sixth Corps was equally successful, and 
Brooks's division, aided by a battery, held a stone 
bridgehead below Fredericksburg and kept the way 
open for his corps. The preliminaries to all this work 
— Hunt planting the helpful artillery and Benham 
bringing up his bridges, and the concentration of the 
troops — were thoroughly provided for and executed 
with secrecy and dispatch ; yet General Lee's watchful 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

assistants soon let him know what was going forward. 
He got ready for a possible attack, but when Wed- 
nesday passed away and then Thursday with no fur- 
ther effort on Sedgwick's part beyond the preparations 
which I have named, Lee rightly concluded that Hook- 
er's main attack was not to be undertaken at that point. 
The right wing, which at the time most concerned me 
in these movements, was to be constituted from the 
Eleventh, Twelfth, and Fifth Corps. 

Monday morning at 5.30, April 27th, my com- 
mand left its camp near Brooke's Station, on the Aquia 
Creek Railroad, and took the most direct road by the 
way of Hartwood Church toward Kelly's Ford. We 
made a fair march (fourteen miles) the first day, and 
went into camp a little beyond that church. Every- 
thing was then in good order, the men in fine health 
and spirits, glad of any change which relieved the mo- 
notony and tedium of their winter quarters. Our 
orders were very strict to keep down the trains to the 
smallest number for ammunition and forage only. I 
found that on that march several of my subordinate 
commanders had been very careless in not carrying 
out these instructions to the letter. General Hooker 
and his staff passed my trains during the march, and 
said to me: "General Meade has done better than 
you." Of course I had issued the orders, but field offi- 
cers would here and there slip in an extra wagon till 
there were many; for where were they to get their 
meals if ration wagons were all left behind? This con- 
dition I quickly corrected, but it was my first mortifi- 
cation m this campaign. Some of the American offi- 
cers were as careless as some of the foreign in the 
matter of orders — glorious in eye service, but con- 
scienceless when out of sight. Our main trains were 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

parked not far from Banks's Ford. My corps was 
followed by Slocum's, and his by Meade's. 

The next day (Tuesday) we were on the road by 
4 A.M., and accomplished our march to the neighbor- 
hood of Kelly's Ford by four in the afternoon ; trains 
as well as troops were closed up and all encamped by 
that early hour. 

I had hastened on ahead of my command to visit 
General Hooker, who had transferred his headquarters 
to Morrisville, a hamlet some five or six miles north of 
Kelly's Ford. Here he received me pleasantly, gave 
specific instructions, and carefully explained his pro- 
posed plan of attack. After this interview I returned 
to my troops and began to execute my part. Captain 
Comstock, of the engineers, who had graduated from 
West Point in the class following mine, was on hand 
to lay a bridge, for this ford was too deep for practical 
use. By 6 p.m. the bridge was commenced. The bridge 
layers were detailed mainly from my corps. Four 
hundred of Bushbeck's brigade seized the boats, which 
they put together, put them into the stream, and 
pushed for the south bank. The enemy's pickets 
stopped to fire one wild volley and fled. There was 
then quick work. The bridge was done before ten 
o'clock and the crossing well covered by picket posts 
far out. Immediately I broke camp and took my com- 
mand over the bridge. Colonel Kellogg, with the Sev- 
enteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, reported to me for 
temporary duty. With his force we extended our out- 
posts and patrolled the country around our new biv- 
ouac, but owing to the ignorance of our guides of the 
character of the country and to the pitchy darkness, 
the troops were not in position until near daylight. 
Still, as Slocum was now to lead the column, we had 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

time for a short rest before resuming the march. Soon 
after getting upon the road to Germania Ford we could 
hear firing on Slocum's front, and before long shells 
began to burst over our heads and uncomfortably near 
to the marching men. Colonel Kellogg made some at- 
tempts to stop this ; but as there were with the enemy 
two field pieces supported by cavalry, it proved too 
difficult a task. Just then a brigade of Stoneman's 
corps swept along southward in that neighborhood 
and rid us of the annoyance. 

General Slocum had cleared the Eapidan, so that 
by eleven at night of this day (Wednesday, April 29th) 
my command began to cross the river. Slocum had 
here no bridge at first and could not wait for one. 
Part of his men, supporting each other and cheering, 
waded the current from shore to shore. The old 
bridge, however, was soon repaired and I used it. By 
four in the morning of Thursday my men were again 
in camp, except those with the train, including its 

On this day (Thursday) we did not delay for rest, 
but marched at seven o'clock, following Slocum, com- 
ing up abreast of his corps near Dowdall's tavern. As 
soon as my head of column came to this place — a small 
opening in the wilderness, within which are a few 
houses and a church — it was halted and I rode over to 
the Chancellor House, or Chancellorsville. Meade's 
command was already there. Here I met General Slo- 
cum, who was to give me instructions. His orders 
were to occupy the right, by Dowdall's tavern, resting 
my extreme right flank at a mill, marked as on Hunting 
Creek, or a tributary. He promised me to cover the 
whole ground from Chancellorsville to Dowdall's tav- 
ern. I went back at once and in person reconnoitered 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the right, riding through the woods and small glade- 
like openings. I could find no mill in that neighbor- 
hood, but I posted the command as directed, drawing 
back my right across the pike, and having considerable 
reserve. I had hardly got into position before I found 
three-quarters of a mile more of space between me 
and Slocum's nearest division, and I was obliged, to 
my sorrow, to use up most of my reserve to fill this 
vacancy. At this time, though there was an interval 
on my right, Pleasonton's cavalry, with some artil- 
lery, remained at the place where the Ely Ford road 
crosses Hunting Creek, and I sent him two companies 
of infantry for supjDort; this, with such cavalry pick- 
ets as Pleasonton would naturally throw out on all the 
roads which led to him, afforded me a good outpost of 
warning to my right rear. But there was no cavalry 
placed on the Orange plank road, nor on the old turn- 
pike, which near Dowdall's tavern passes off to the 
north of west, making a considerable angle with the 
plank road. 

As soon as Meade had crossed the Eapidan, Ander- 
son's two Confederate brigades were drawn back from 
the United States Ford; the bridges were immediately 
laid and all but Gibbon's division of the Second Corps 
(Couch's) came to join us at Chancellorsville. Sickles, 
too, with the Third, had been taken from Sedgwick and 
was (Thursday night) in bivouac near the United 
States Ford, just across the river. 

General Hooker, with a portion of his staff, had 
already come up and taken his headquarters at Chan- 
cellorsville. Our troops had skirmished all along with 
Stuart's cavalry, and exchanged some shots with An- 
derson's division in front of Slocum's center and left, 
yet thus far everything had worked well. We had en- 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

tered upon a vigorous offensive campaign. We had 
reached the enemy's vicinage, and were but a few miles 
from his left flank, with no natural or artificial ob- 
struction in our way. Such was the situation Thurs- 
day evening. 

Friday morning at dawn Sickles completed his 
march and joined us on the front line. He took post 
on my left, relieving some of Slocum's thin line and 
some of Steinwehr's, near Dowdall's tavern. I thus 
obtained Barlow's excellent brigade for my general 
corps reserve. These, with a few reserve batteries, 
were held in hand, in echelon, to cover my extreme 
right flank in case of such need. 

Let us notice again, on that Thursday night, how 
favorable matters looked, when General Hooker was 
so jubilant and confident and full of the purpose of 
pushing on to the heights near Banks's Ford. He had 
then 50,000 men well concentrated at Chancellorsville 
and more within easy support. His left wing, under 
Sedgwick, had thus far occupied enough the attention 
of the Confederates to keep them in its front at Fred- 
ericksburg. It was not, then, strange that the sanguine 
Hooker caused to be issued and sent to us that night, 
to be read at our camp fires and to be published to our 
commands, as speedily as possible, a congratulatory 
order. (For full order, see Appendix.) 

General Hooker intended to push for Lee's left 
flank and assail him there in position. Should Lee 
move upon Sedgwick with all the force which he could 
make available for that purpose, he would probably no 
more than get well at work before Hooker's right wing 
would be upon him. 

The alternative for Lee was to leave as small a 
force in his works before Sedgwick as possible, with 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

instructions to keep Sedgwick back, while he himself, 
with the main Confederate army. Napoleonlike, hur- 
ried to join Anderson beyond Salem Church, whose 
skirmish line boldly fronted Hooker's at Chancellors- 
ville, and promptly gave battle. This plan had been 
matured from the first, and was already well under- 
stood by all the Confederate brigade and division com- 
manders. Their brigades were large and corresponded 
very well to our divisions — for they made no mistake 
in consolidating their troops. However much of a dis- 
turbance or panic in the rear our cavalry under Stone- 
man was creating, Lee did not send his cavalry force 
under Stuart to try and head us off, but simply let his 
son. General W. H. F. Lee, with his small cavalry di- 
vision, watch, follow, fight, or do whatever he could, 
while he retained Stuart with two-thirds of that corps 
with himself. His 1,800 cavalrymen, with some horse 
artillery, were never better employed. 

Early's division of Stonewall Jackson's corps and 
Barksdale's brigade, with a part of the reserve artil- 
lery, to be commanded by Pendleton, were selected for 
the defense of the works in front of Sedgwick at Fred- 
ericksburg. Anderson already had in our front at 
Chancellorsville five infantry brigades, in all nearly 
11,000 men. At midnight of Thursday, while we were 
sleeping near Chancellorsville, in that wilderness, Mc- 
Laws's division joined Anderson with some 6,000 men. 
On Friday morning at dawn Stonewall Jackson (who 
was now at Fredericksburg) with all his command, ex- 
cept Early, followed McLaws. Jackson had three divi- 
sions, numbering about 26,000 men, besides 170 pieces 
of artillery. He reached Anderson's lines by eight 
o'clock Friday morning (May 1st) and, as was his 
wont, took command and prepared to advance. It was 


Battle of Chancellors ville 

a goodly force — upward of 43,000 men of all arms, well 
organized, well drilled and disciplined, and under that 
best of Southern leaders, the redoubtable Stonewall 
Jackson. The troops fell into position on their arrival. 
McLaws went to the right of Anderson and put his 
forces on high ground in front of a country road which 
crosses from the river road to the " Old Mine " road. 
Anderson crossed the Old Mine road and the turnpike, 
while Jackson's men were upon the plank roadway 
and the new railway route. Owens's regiment of Con- 
federate cavalry made the first reconnoissance, and by 
11 A.M. this movement was followed up by other forces. 
As revealed in his orders to Sedgwick Thursday 
evening, General Hooker's confident purpose still was 
to push on from Chancellorsville, drive back Anderson, 
and seize and occupy the high ground near Banks's 
Ford. But for the delay of Chancellorsville, as if 
that was our real destination. Hooker would have eas- 
ily gained his point. Probably he waited first for 
Couch, and afterwards for Sickles. Still, after a per- 
sonal scout of observation and examination of his 
front, Hooker issued his instructions for the execution 
of his proposed plan: First, Meade, using two divi- 
sions, was to take the river road and get to a desig- 
nated position opposite Banks's Ford by 2 p.m.; 
second, Sykes, supported by Hancock from Couch's 
corps, was to take the same direction on the old Fred- 
ericksburg turnpike, move up abreast of Meade, both 
columns having deployed their skirmishers and lines so 
as to connect, and to fight any enemy that might be 
found there; third, Slocum, with the Twelfth Corps, 
was to march out on the plank road eastward to Tab- 
ernacle Church and mass his corps there. It was a 
point on the same general line as those to be attained 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

by Meade and Sykes. I, with the Eleventh, was to fol- 
low Slocum and post my command a mile in rear of 
him. All these movements were so regulated as to be 
completed by two in the afternoon. 

As a grand support to our whole wing, Sedgwick, 
below Fredericksburg, was directed to make a demon- 
stration in force against the enemy's intrenchments at 
Hamilton's Crossing. This was ordered to be under- 
taken at 1 P.M. But Sedgwick did not get the orders 
till four hours later. As Hooker's chief of staff was 
at Falmouth, and had constant telegraphic communi- 
cation with him, the wretched failures in the trans- 
mission of orders and messages between Chancel- 
lorsville and Fredericksburg have never been 

The other columns lost no time. They started out 
on their respective roads. True, there was some clog- 
ging at the Chancellorsville crossroads, for many 
troops passed that one point, and the result of this 
clogging was that Sykes got considerably ahead of 
Hancock, and Slocum' s appearance at Tabernacle 
Church was delayed — still, Slocum came forward and 
I, with my corps, supported him. Meade reached his 
point in fine style, but did not succeed in connecting 
with Sykes on his right ; neither did Slocum reach out 
far enough to touch Sykes' s right flank. Yet very soon 
Hancock was on hand in his rear for support. 

Both of the armies were now in rapid motion in 
comparatively open ground. Jackson had a shorter 
front than we, and produced unity by commanding the 
whole line. We had four detached columns — those of 
Meade, Sykes, Slocum, and French — feeling out ex- 
perimentally for a line of connection beyond the 
ground already passed by Jackson; and our common 


Battle of Chancellors ville 

commander unfortunately was not, like Jackson, at 
the front, where he could make the corrections now of 
vital importance. Meade's skirmishers occupied the 
heights in sight of the coveted Banks's Ford. Sykes 
beheld McLaws with deployed troops on the very hills 
he was directed to occupy. He did not hesitate an in- 
stant, but moved forward at double quick and attacked 
with all his might, driving back the brigades before 
him, and seized the strong position. 

This position Sykes continued to hold. He was 
outflanked; but, with General Hancock close at hand, 
Sykes did not propose to retire nor fear to hold his 
ground. It was just the instant to reenforce him. 
Behind Hancock was all of Sickles's corps. But, to 
everybody's sorrow, our commander had changed his 
mind at that moment, and the orders of Hooker came 
to Sykes to return to Chancellorsville at once and take 
the old position. Slocum had encountered the brigades 
of Wright and Posey, but the action had hardly begun 
when the same orders came to him; the same also to 
Meade, as he was getting ready to give Sykes a strong 
support on his left. My command had gotten in readi- 
ness and gone out two miles, and a brigade of Sickles's 
had come to watch at Dowdall's toward the west, as 
French was doing toward the south at Todd's tavern. 
We all received the orders of retreat with astonish- 
ment: " Go back to the old position! " 

It gave to our whole army the impression of a 
check, a failure, a defeat. It was a sudden change 
from a vigorous offensive to the defensive, into a posi- 
tion not good at all to resist a front attack, and one 
easily turned ; for our right had no river or swamp or 
other natural obstacle on which to rest, and the whole 
position was enveloped in a vast and difficult forest, of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

which we knew little. Such maps of the roads as we 
had we subsequently found to be wholly incorrect. 

During the confusion of the changes of troops at 
Dowdall's tavern some female members of a family 
there, taking a basket of provisions with them, escaped 
from our lines and informed some Confederate officer 
of the situation, carrying accurate information of how 
we occupied that position. 

On the other hand, our retreat was counted a great 
victory for the Confederates. They gained the morale 
which we had lost. They became jubilant and were 
confident of our final defeat. Hooker in motion was a 
great lion in their way, but now he had decided to lie 
still, and they, anticipating his fatal spring, would 
creep upon him and slay him. 

Had General Hooker been at the front with Sykes 
or with Hancock at the time of Sykes' s attack, he 
would have seen that his ability to concentrate there 
was greater than he dreamed. Meade, Couch, and 
Slocum were already out of the forest and my corps 
was just emerging from it when he ordered us to 

The old position which we resumed was as follows: 
A stream called Mineral Spring Run, rising perhaps 
a half mile west of Chancellorsville, runs northeast 
and joins the Rappahannock at right angles. Meade 
stretched his command along the western crest of this 
run, and, resting his left not far from the Rappahan- 
nock, faced toward Fredericksburg. The whole of 
Meade's line ran through an unbroken forest; its ex- 
tent was about three miles. Couch continued the line, 
but was obliged to bulge out for a half mile to cover the 
Chancellorsville house and knoll. Hancock's division 
of this corps made a right angle, the apex being on the 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

old turnpike. French's division covered the space be- 
tween Hancock and Meade, being substantially in re- 
serve. Slocum's corps was next. Geary's and Will- 
iams's divisions, abreast of Hancock's foremost men, 
carried the line along some high ground to a second 
knoll, called Hazel Grove. Sickles, making an obtuse 
angle with Slocum's front, filled the space between 
Slocum's right flank and the small open field which 
embraces Dowdall's tavern. This he did with Birney's 
division ; the remainder of his corps was in reserve, lo- 
cated between Dowdall's and Chancellorsville. 

My own corps (the Eleventh) occupied the extreme 
right. As this position became subsequently of special 
interest, I will describe it. First,the old plank road and 
the old turnpike coming from the east are one and the 
same from Chancellorsville to and across Dowdall's 
opening; there the road forked, the plank contiauing 
west, making an angle of some twenty degrees with the 
pike. North of the plank, in the Dowdall's opening, is 
the Wilderness Church; Hawkins's house is in the 
small gladelike space, about a quarter of a mile north 
of the church, and Dowdall's tavern, where Melzie 
Chancellor's family lived, was southeast of the church 
and also south of the main road. Here were my head- 
quarters and Steinwehr's before the battle of Sat- 
urday. The next opening to Dowdall's, westward, 
situated between the forks — i. e., between the plank 
road and the turnpike — was called Tally Farm. The 
highest ground was at Tally's, near the pike, and at 
Hawkins's house ; there was only a small rise at Dow- 
dall's. These elevations were but slight, hardly as 
high as Hazel Grove or Chancellorsville. Except the 
small openings, the forest was continuous and nearly 
enveloping. Generally the trees were near together, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

with abundant entanglements of undergrowth. Now, 
beginning with Sickles' s right and facing south, Gen- 
eral Steinwehr, commanding my second division, de- 
ployed two regiments of Bushbeck's brigade, some 
100 yards, more or less, south of the plank road; 
the remainder of that brigade he deployed or held as 
a reserve north of the road — holding all of the ground 
to the Wilderness Church and to the forks of the 
roads. General Schurz, in charge of the 3d division, 
took up the line and carried it to a crossroad, and then, 
making a right angle, ran back along this crossroad to 
the turnpike, and thence farther, just south of and par- 
allel with the pike. He kept about half of the brigades 
of Krzyzanowski and Schimmelfennig in reserve, 
holding his reserves in the Dowdall's opening north of 
the church. The next division (the first) under Gen- 
eral Devens, was deployed in the extension of Schurz's 
line, first along the turnpike westward, with similar 
reserves. He drew back one brigade, Colonel Von 
Gilsa's, and a small part of another, nearly at right 
angles to the turnpike, and extended this line well out 
into the woods, facing it toward the northwest. There 
was a country road behind him, so that he could easily 
reenforce any part of his line. The artillery was dis- 
tributed along the lines in favorable positions — two 
pieces near Devens' s right, the remainder of Heck- 
man's battery on Devens's left; Dilger's fine bat- 
tery of six guns at the crossroads, and Wiedrich's 
four guns at Steinwehr's right and three at his left. 
Besides, I had three batteries in reserve. I had a 
line of intrenchments made off against the little 
church, extending across the opening into the woods, 
and facing toward our extreme right and rear. I put 
the reserve heavy guns in position there to protect that 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

flank, and supported them by my general reserve of 
infantry, viz., Barlow's large brigade. My whole 
front was covered with rifle pits or barricades, con- 
structed under the constant inspection of Major Hoff- 
man, the chief engineer. Early Saturday (May 2d) 
General Hooker, with Colonel Comstock, his engineer 
officer, visited my corps and rode with me along my 
front line. He frequently exclaimed : " How strong ! " 
and made no criticism. At one point a regiment was 
not deployed, and at another was an unfilled gap in the 
thick forest. Comstock advised me to keep these 
spaces filled, even if I had to shorten my front. I made 
the changes suggested. Further, the whole command 
was covered with a good line of skirmishers. 

The first commotion in my front occurred Friday 
evening. It was apparently a force of infantry with 
a battery of artillery, sent by General Lee and moving 
along the lines from our left toward our right. The 
force went no farther than Schimmelfennig's brigade. 
He had marched out a battalion, had suddenly assailed 
the reconnoiterers, and driven them off. 

During the next day frequent reconnoissances were 
made from my front. Individual scouts pushed out 
under the cover of the woods, and at one time a com- 
pany of Pennsylvania cavalry undertook to patrol the 
various roads outward from the vicinity of my com- 

During the morning of this Saturday it was evident 
to us that the enemy was doing something — most prob- 
ably preparing for a general attack. Hancock's angle, 
or that between Slocum and Sickles, were moit favor- 
able points. I sent out my chief of staff more than 
once to see if my line was in shape and to order the 
command, through the division commanders, to keep 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

on the alert. Once my staff officer, Major Whittlesey, 
rode over the entire picket line to see that the front 
was well covered with skirmishers. He went from the 
left to the extreme right and made his report. I speak 
of this to show what unusual precautions I took be- 
cause of the forest and of the uncertainty of the en- 
emy's movements. Doubtless other corps commanders 
did the same. The officers, during Saturday, fre- 
quently discussed the situation at my headquarters. 
Every iota of information which I received I sent at 
once by mounted orderlies to General Hooker. I did 
not think General Lee would be likely to move around 
our right, because our whole force was much larger 
than his. He had already been compelled to divide his 
army in order to hold back Sedgwick and come against 
us. He could not afford to divide again, for, should he 
attempt that, certainly Hooker would attack his sepa- 
rate bodies and conquer him in detail. So I reasoned, 
and so did others. Again, if my flank should be turned, 
it appeared plain, from the roads on our maps, that 
Lee would have to make a large detour. To withstand 
this, Reynolds's corps, recently come up from Fal- 
mouth, was on hand, besides the artillery and the re- 
serves of the other corps stationed near Chancellors- 
ville. Further, should an attack by any possibility 
reach us, Devens was to hold on as long as he could, 
using his reserves to support the points most threat- 
ened ; Schurz was to hold his regiments that were free 
from the line, ready to protect the right flank. He pre- 
ferred, he said, to hold them en masse, so as to charge 
in column. And last, as I have said, I put my reserve 
artillery in position and supported it by Barlow's men, 
facing the right, so that, should the troops of the right 
be dislodged, they could be drawn back beyond his line, 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

and still the fight continue till help came. Was not 
Sickles's whole corps at hand! Would not he simply 
face about and reenforce me? Once in the West, a 
year later, with the Fourth Corps, I was situated in 
the same manner, but by using all corps reserves and 
reenforcements that I sent for, the enemy's brigades 
were met in time and driven back with great loss. 

General Lee says : " Early on the next morning of 
the 2d (Saturday, May 2, 1863), General Jackson 
marched by the Furnace and Brock's road; his move- 
ment being effectually covered by Fitz Lee's cavalry 
under Stuart in person." This direction was nearly 
parallel with our front line from east to west till, oppo- 
site Sickles, the road which Jackson took turned sud- 
denly toward the south and kept on for several miles 
away from us toward Spottsylvania. Then, intersect- 
ing a road running northwest, the column turned up 
that one and kept on to the plank beyond, and massed 
under the cover of the thick forest. This march took 
nearly all day. General Lee, as he knew how to do, 
with McLaws and Anderson, kept Meade, Couch, and 
Slocum busy — and Sickles busier still near the Fur- 
nace as soon as Jackson's guns were heard. 

There was a point at the Furnace clearing where 
the moving troops of Jackson were seen by some of 
Sickles's skirmishers. This was reported to Sickles, 
and by him to General Hooker. A strong reconnois- 
sance was made. Clark's battery, well supported, was 
put in position, and fired upon the Confederate column. 
This firing forced the enemy to abandon the road, and 
the whole force appeared at first to retire rapidly 
eastward and southward toward Spottsylvania. 

The Twenty-third Georgia Eegiment, left behind, 
deployed toward Sickles to hold the corner where 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the road changed direction. This resistance caused 
Sickles, with Hooker's consent, to send forward two 
and a half miles Birney's entire division, supporting 
it by other troops. This command worked along slowly 
through the woods, bridging streams, sending out Ber- 
dan's sharpshooters as skirmishers, and pressing for- 
ward. Considerable resistance was encountered, but 
the Twenty-third Georgia was, after a while, captured 
by the sharpshooters. 

In brief, the circumstances seemed to warrant the 
conclusion that Lee was moving off — probably to 
Orange Court House — in retreat. Assuming this to be 
the case, Hooker directed Slocum to support Sickles's 
left, and I received orders by Captain Moore, of Hook- 
er's staff, to support Sickles's right with my reserve 
troops, while he vigorously attacked the flank or rear 
of Stonewall Jackson. 

As an attack in that direction was to be made by 
our troops and by those near me, and as my general 
reserve was taken away to support it, I deemed it of 
sufficient importance to go myself and see what fur- 
ther should be done. General Steinwehr accompanied 
me. We saw our men in position on the right of 
Sickles, over two miles south of us, but not finding the 
engagement very active in that quarter we hastened 
back to my headquarters at Dowdall's Clearing. We 
were again at the tavern. Our horses had been unsad- 
dled for their evening meal. There was no news for 
me, except what the scouts brought and what General 
Devens had frequently reported, that Lee's column had 
been crossing the plank road obliquely between two and 
three miles ahead, and apparently aiming toward 
Orange Court House. Had I then been familiar with 
the routes as I am now I should have distrusted the 


Battle of Chancellors ville 

conclusion. General Hooker, who had more sources of 
information than I, thought Lee was retreating. He 
so telegraphed to Sedgwick about the time of Sickles' s 
attack. He ordered all the troops toward the Furnace 
in that belief. I had then the same conviction. 

When Stonewall Jackson began his march, Ander- 
son watched us closely. He reported : " At midday 
Sickles's corps, Bimey's division, appeared in some 
force at the Furnace. Posey's brigade was sent to dis- 
lodge him and was soon engaged in a warm skirmish 
with him." This combat became so lively and Posey 
was so hard pressed that he called for help. Then An- 
derson took Wright's brigade from the line and sent it 
to the support of Posey. Further, Major Hardaway's 
artillery was added to that of Lieutenant Colonel 
Brown. Both of these large brigades of Posey and 
Wright with artillery were here, deployed in as long 
a line as possible; they fought by increasing their 
skirmishers till night, and intrenched as soon as they 

This all shows that Hooker's attack upon Stonewall 
Jackson's flank at the Furnace was not really made. 
It was General Lee himself, who, during Jackson's 
wonderful march, by means of Anderson and McLaws 
and part of his artillery, took care of Sickles's whole 
line. Thus, Hooker's movement toward the Furnace 
carried away from my flank all immediate support to 
be expected from Barlow, Sickles, and Slocum; and, 
further, these troops were looking, moving, and fight- 
ing in an opposite direction. They were engaged, not 
as Hooker telegraphed, with Lee in full retreat, but 
with Lee himself staying behind after Jackson's de- 
parture. He was then controlling the smaller wing of 
his army. Lee took great risks as he did at Gaines's 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Mill before Richmond, where 25,000 men only held in 
check the whole of McClellan's army, while he himself 
crossed the river and defeated Porter and all the sup- 
ports that McClellan dared send him. This time Lee 
took the smaller force himself. 

Stonewall Jackson continued his march until he 
ordered a temporary halt. At this halt Fitzhugh Lee, 
who from a wooded knoll had discovered my flank, re- 
turned to Jackson and asked him to go and see. The 
two generals then rode to the wooded knoll. Jackson 
took a good look at our right flank and then, without 
a word, went back and marched his command still far- 
ther, at least half a mile beyond the " Old Turnpike." 
The lines of battle were there formed about 4 p.m. 
The divisions were in line 100 yards apart. Should 
they preserve the order of arrangement indicated, 
Jackson's flank would be beyond our Greneral Devens's 
waiting line of battle — beyond his right battery and 
Von Gilsa's supporting brigade. Still, with ten min- 
utes' notice or fifteen minutes' hard fighting, Devens 
could have held or extended his line. 

It was already six o'clock. Hearing the sound of a 
skirmish toward Devens's position, I mounted with my 
staff and rode toward a high ridge not far from my re- 
serve batteries. With a little more than 8,000 men at 
hand and with no other troops now nearer than Chan- 
cellorsville, I heard the first murmuring of a coming 
storm — a little quick firing on the picket line, the wild 
rushing of frightened game into our very camps, and 
almost sooner than it can be told the bursting of thou- 
sands of Confederates through the almost impenetra- 
ble thickets of the wilderness and then the wilder, 
noisier conflict which ensued. It was a terrible gale! 
the rush, the rattle, the quick lightning from a hundred 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

points at once ; the roar, redoubled by echoes through 
the forest ; the panic, the dead and dying in sight and 
the wounded straggling along; the frantic efforts of 
the brave and patriotic to stay the angry storm ! One 
may live through and remember impressions of those 
fatal moments, but no pen or picture can catch and 
give the whole. 

A few words of detail will make clearer to the 
reader the situation. General Dole said that at 5 p.m. 
the order was given the Confederates to advance. If 
his time was right it must have taken him an hour to 
work forward " through the very thick woods." He 
first encountered our skirmishers who were so obsti- 
nate that it required his main line to drive them back ; 
then his men were " subjected to a very heavy musket 
fire, with grape, canister, and shell." Immediately his 
line assailed our barricades and intrenchments, drove 
our defenders off, and seized our batteries. Von 
Gilsa's Union brigade was supporting two guns ; Dole's 
left regiment broke through the interval between Von 
Gilsa and the remainder of Devens's division, while 
Eodes's brigade faced Von Gilsa in front and so the 
greater part of Iver son's long line reached beyond Von 
Gilsa's position. Von Gilsa and the troops to his im- 
mediate left were quickly driven from their intrench- 
ments, and they rolled along down Devens's line and 
created a panic in all that front. But there was an- 
other line to encounter after the first real resistance 
made by Devens's reserve regiments and part of 
Schurz's division, which was on a side hill in an open 
field east of Hawkins's house. Against this line the 
Confederates had come and succeeded in dislodging it, 
capturing one rifle gun; then they pushed on rapidly 
300 yards more over an open field. During this move- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ment they faced another severe fire from musketry and 
batteries on the crest of a hill which commanded their 
field of approach. Our infantry was there in consid- 
erable force and protected by rifle intrenchments. We 
had filled these intrenchments, which had been pre- 
pared for Barlow's brigade, with fragments of regi- 
ments and individual men in retreat, who had volun- 
teered to stay and help. 

In the outset of the conflict I instantly sent a staff 
officer (Colonel Asmussen) to see that all was right in 
the direction of the firing. After Colonel Asmussen 
left me I had proceeded some 200 yards toward my 
reserve batteries, when the louder firing reached my 
ears and I saw Von Gilsa's men running back from 
their position. Immediately I made an effort to 
change the front of part of Devens's and all of Schurz's 
division. The rush of the enemy made this impossible. 
To render matters worse for me personally my horse 
got crazy, like some of the panic-stricken men, and 
plunged and reared and left me on the ground. Of 
course, I was soon mounted, but this hindered and de- 
layed my personal work. 

Steinwehr, who was always at hand, at this junc- 
ture brought me two regiments. For a time the re- 
serve artillery at that point fired steadily and did well. 
It took the Confederates twenty minutes to take that 
place. It was taken too soon, because the instant that 
the fire became severe our men, who were separate 
from their companies, ran back in panic and four can- 
non were captured, but some of the batteries were 
withdrawn in good order. Dilger's, for example, kept 
up its fire all along the Chancellorsville road. Behind 
the reserve batteries near Dowdall's tavern Steinwehr 
had his men spring over their breastworks and hold 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

on, firing as soon as they could. One brigade of Ms 
(Bushbeck's) was kept quite entire and faced the en- 
emy through the whole retreat. 

Schimmelfennig's and a part of Krzyzanowski's bri- 
gades moved gradually back to the north of the plank 
road and into the eastern border of Dowdall's opening. 
They, too, kept up their fire. The whole center, as 
well as Devens's right, seem to have been seized with a 
blind indescribable panic. Several staff officers were 
near me and one of General Hooker's staff — Colonel 
Dickinson. We worked hard to stay the panic-stricken 
— officers as well as men. 

" It's of no use," they would sing out. One colonel 
said : " I have done what I could ! " and continued his 
flight. What artillery we kept was for a time well 
served, but we could only fight for time. 

The next stand I attempted was at the forest's 
edge, but when that position was outflanked by Jack- 
son, I rode back to the first high plateau to which we 
came on the Chancellorsville route. Here I met Gen- 
eral Hiram G. Berry, of Maine. He said: " Well, gen- 
eral, where nowf " I replied: "You take the right 
(north) of this road and I will take the left and try to 
defend it." All of my batteries were joined to others 
already there and placed on the brow of the plateau. I 
here brought all the troops of the Eleventh Corps 
which I could collect and faced them to the rear in sup- 
port of the batteries. The enemy reached' us with his 
fire. Some of our officers misbehaved even here, so 
much had our defeat disheartened them; but many 
were still resolute and helpful. Berry, of the Third 
Corps, put his men into line and marched off to hold 
back the advancing masses, till he fell mortally 
wounded. Pleasonton, returning from Hooker's Fur- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

nace movement, used his troops and some batteries 
effectively from the opening at Hazel Grove, south- 
east of Dowdall's, and succeeded in stopping some 
troops of Jackson's which were pursuing beyond our 
now left flank the fugitives who had taken that direc- 
tion in their flight. Soon, with Berry's division, the 
cannon on our hill, Pleasonton's help and that of 
various other detachments swinging into a line per- 
pendicular to the one thoroughfare — the plank road — 
we were able to check Jackson's advance. 

What a roar of cannon pouring their volleys into 
the forest, now black with the growing night ! It was 
in that forest that the brave, energetic, and successful 
Southern leader fell. Jackson's death was more in- 
jurious to the Confederate cause than would have 
been that of 10,000 other soldiers, so great was the 
confidence he had won, so deep was the reverence of 
citizen and soldier for his character and ability! 

It has been customary to blame me and my corps 
for the disaster. The imputations of neglect to obey 
orders; of extraordinary self-confidence; of fanatical 
reliance upon the God of battles; of not sending out 
reconnoissances ; of not intrenching; of not strength- 
ening the right flank by keeping proper reserves; of 
having no pickets and skirmishers; of not sending in- 
formation to General Hooker, etc., etc., are far from 
true. My command was. by positive orders riveted to 
that position. Though constantly threatened and 
made aware of hostile columns in motion, yet the 
woods were so dense that Stonewall Jackson was able 
to mass a large force a few miles off, whose exact 
whereabouts neither patrols, reconnoissances, nor 
scouts ascertained. The enemy crossing the plank 
road, two and a half miles off, we all saw. So the turn- 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

ing at the Furnace was seen by hundreds of our peo- 
ple; but the interpretation of these movements was 
certainly wrong. Yet, wherein did we neglect any 
precaution? It will be found that Devens kept his 
subordinates constantly on the qui vive ; so did Schurz. 
Their actions and mine were identical. The Eleventh 
Corps detained Jackson for over an hour ; part of my 
force was away by Hooker's orders; part of each di- 
vision fought hard, as our Confederate enemies clearly 
show ; part of it became wild with panic, like the Bel- 
gians at Waterloo, like most of our troops at Bull Bun, 
and the Confederates, the second day, at Fair Oaks. 

I may leave the whole matter to the considerate 
judgment of my companions in arms, simply asserting 
that on the terrible day of May 2, 1863, I did all which 
could have been done by a corps commander in the 
presence of that panic of men largely caused by the 
overwhelming attack of Jackson's 26,000 men against 
my isolated corps of 8,000 without its reserve — thus 
outnumbering me 3 to 1. 

There is always a theory in war which will forestall 
the imputation of blame to those who do not deserve it. 
It is to impute the credit of one's great defeat to his en- 
emy. I think in our hearts, as we take a candid review 
of everything that took place under General Hooker 
in the blind wilderness country around Chancellors- 
ville, we do, indeed, impute our primary defeat to the 
successful effort of Stonewall Jackson, and our other 
checks to General Bobert E. Lee. Certainly those are 
wrong who claim that I had no skirmishers out at 
Chancellorsville, for every report shows that the whole 
front was covered with them, and they are wrong who 
declare that there were no scouts or reconnoissances — ■ 
for scouts, both cavalry and infantry, were constantly 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

sent out, sorae of whom reported back to Devens, to me, 
and to General Hooker. The reconnoissance made by 
Schimmelfennig's brigade was as bold and as effective 
as it could be in such a forest. Or again, that there 
were no intrenchments ; for under Major Hoffman, the 
faithful engineer officer, the front and the batteries 
were fairly covered; and the woods, in places barri- 
caded and obstructed, occupied by the right brigade of 
the corps, and afforded also a natural protection. 

The extraordinary precaution of a cross intrench- 
ment extending over the open ground and into the 
woods in rear of our right where were all the reserve 
artillery and Barlow's division to support it, should 
not be forgotten. If there were any axes, picks, or 
shovels obtainable which were not used, then I was 
misinformed. The order from the commanding gen- 
eral addressed to General Slocum and myself jointly, 
cautioning me to look to my right flank, etc., must have 
been made prior to the visit of Generals Hooker and 
Comstock, for General Sickles's corps had already re- 
placed General Slocum' s on my left and certainly Gen- 
eral Hooker would not have sent away all of Sickles's 
corps and all of my general reserve on the very day 
of the battle, if he had deemed those masses necessary 
for the strengthening of his right flank. 

Neither the conimander, the War Department, nor 
Congress ever saw fit, by any communication to me, 
to hold me accountable for the dislodgment of the 
Eleventh Corps at Chancellorsville. That General 
Hooker should have believed General Lee to have been 
in full retreat, as he telegraphed to Sedgwick, was not 
unnatural or confined to him alone; upon that theory 
the move he made of Sickles, Slocum, and Barlow dur- 
ing Saturday was not bad. And, indeed, my conduct 


Battle of Chancellorsville 

in this battle was in no respect different from that in 
other engagements. 

The Eleventh Corps was soon reorganized and 
marched to relieve the Fifth Corps, mider General 
Meade, on our extreme left. Here it held an in- 
trenched or barricaded line till the end of the Chan- 
cellorsville campaign. 

For the operations of the next day; the work of 
Sedgwick's command at Fredericksburg; his fighting 
near and crossing the Eappahannock ; the unjust as- 
persions cast upon him by pretentious writers; the 
grand council of war, where, mostly, the general offi- 
cers voted to fight, and the final withdrawal, I wish to 
call attention to the good accounts of the Comte de 
Paris and to the more exhaustive handling of Chancel- 
lorsville by a brother officer — Major Theodore A. 

Chancellorsville was a dreadful field. The dead 
were strewn through forest and open farms. The 
wounded had often to wait for days before succor 
came. Sometimes it never came. One officer on my 
personal staff. Captain F. Dessaur, was killed while 
near me beside Barlow's intrenchments, endeavoring 
to rally the panic-stricken men. His young wife had 
besought him to resign and come home to Brooklyn, 
N. Y., before this battle commenced. He tendered his 
resignation, explaining the peculiar circumstances of 
the case. But we were before the enemy, and soon to 
be engaged in battle, so that I wrote my disapproval 
upon his application. Poor fellow, he was slain, and 
my heart was deeply pained at his loss and in sympa- 
thy with his stricken family. Dessaur is an example 
of that dreadful sacrifice made in the cause of our 
national unity and of human liberty. 




"OROBABLY there was no gloomier period during 
"'■ onr great war than the month which followed 
the disasters of Chancellorsville. Then I entered with 
fuller understanding into the meaning of " the valley 
of the shadow of death." On May 26, 1863, an oflScer, 
high in rank and claiming to be a warm personal 
friend, wrote me with great apparent frankness and 
urged me to leave the Eleventh Corps. I have his letter 
before me, in which occur these remarkable words: 
" The first thing they [the men, Germans and Ameri- 
cans] will do when placed in position will be to look 
behind them, and the accidental discharge of a musket 
in the rear will produce another panic, another disas- 
ter, another disgrace to yourself, to the troops, to all 
of us," etc. 

I would not believe it; I courted another trial for 
the command other than that of the terrible Wilder- 
ness. I was then obliged to raise my eyes above the 
criticisms and well-meant advice of my companions in 
arms ; I looked to the Great Shepherd for his care and 
guidance. As a result, in the end, nay, in the very cam- 
paign so soon to begin, my judgment was justified. 

The feeling of the country at that time. North and 
South, was far from satisfactory to those patriots who 
had struggled the hardest and suffered the most. 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

The three months' and two years' men at the end 
of May were going home to be mustered out, making 
the army of Hooker some 25,000 less than that of Lee. 
The raid of Stoneman had been severe upon the cav- 
alry horses ; the terms of enlistment of many cavalry- 
men had expired; so that, when General Pleasonton, 
succeeding Stoneman, assumed command, our cavalry 
had been depleted at least one-third. 

As to the outlook for the cause itself, when was it 
ever worse? I remember well the feelings displayed 
and the opinions entertained by our military men at 
General Hooker's council of war just before we re- 
turned from Chancellorsville. General Sickles, then 
the able commander of the Third Corps, was very 
frank. Though our army was still so strong, much of 
it as yet unhurt, and though the other general officers 
thought it wise to give the foe another trial before re- 
tiring, he said, substantially : " No ! the last election 
went against the administration; the copperheads are 
gaining in strength ; the enemies of the Eepublic every- 
where are jubilant. It will not do to risk here the loss 
of this army. We have gone far enough. I do not 
speak as a military man from a military standpoint — 
you, gentlemen, are better fitted for that — ^but from my 
view of the political arena." We returned, as every- 
body knows, to the old camps. Then came the fever to 
go home, the terrible newspaper abuse of us all — some- 
times of the officers and sometimes of the conduct of 
the soldiers. With it were the old animosities, envies, 
and jealousies, and the newly awakened ambitions. 
There was a constant rushing to Washington for the 
purpose of interviewing Halleck, Stanton, and Lincoln. 
The committee of Congress, sitting to look after the 
conduct of the war, had hosts of voluntary witnesses 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

from the army, and the foundations were then laid for 
miusual fame, for extraordinary reputations. It is re- 
freshing to-day to review the batch of wise plans and 
critical statements which were evolved, having been 
made after the events which they deplore. 

We could gather little hope from the splendid con- 
dition of Lee's army. It had been reorganized. Its 
numerous brigades were grouped into divisions and 
the divisions into three army corps, and cavalry. 
Stonewall Jackson, it is true, was no more, but the 
three lieutenant generals — Longstreet, A. P. Hill, and 
Ewell — were not wanting in ability or experience. 
They were trusted by Lee and believed in by the troops 
and people. 

J. E. B. Stuart was cut out for a cavalry leader. In 
perfect health, but thirty-two years of age, full of 
vigor and enterprise, with the usual ideas imbibed in 
Virginia concerning State Supremacy, Christian in 
thought and temperate by habit, no man could ride 
faster, endure more hardships, make a livelier charge, 
or be more hearty and cheerful while so engaged. A 
touch of vanity, which invited the smiles and applause 
of the fair maidens of Virginia, but added to the zest 
and ardor of Stuart's parades and achievements. He 
commanded Lee's cavalry corps — a well-organized 
body, of which he was justly proud. 

It took each army some time to get its artillery into 
practical shape. It was sometimes attached to divi- 
sions and distributed here and there as might be re- 
quired, but finally, General Lee gave to his artillery a 
form of organization; putting together, for one bat- 
tery, four guns instead of six, the usual number, he 
constituted a battalion of sixteen pieces. He placed 
fifteen such battalions under the command of Pendle- 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

ton, who, in his own arm, rivaled Stuart in energy and 
experience. Habitually, as I understand it, one artil- 
lery battalion was assigned to a division of infantry, 
making three to each corps. This placed six battalions 
in the reserve. Besides these guns there were thirty 
of light artillery or horse artillery attached to the cav- 
alry. The total number of guns for Lee's service with 
his army in the field was then 270 pieces. 

I am inclined to believe that Lee's aggregate in 
the outset reached the number which General Hooker 
gave it, by comparing several counts, viz., 80,000 men 
of all arms. 

In the midst of our depression it was not deemed 
possible to cut out and cut down our reduced brigades 
and regiments. It might have destroyed our existing 
morale. And I think General Hooker, like McClellan, 
enjoyed maneuvering several independent bodies. At 
any rate, he had the awkward number of eight small 
corps, besides his artillery. John F. Eeynolds com- 
manded the First, Hancock the Second, Sickles the 
Third, Meade the Fifth, Sedgwick the Sixth, Howard 
the Eleventh, Slocum the Twelfth, and Pleasonton the 
cavalry; while Hunt had general charge of the artil- 
lery. We had then, in May, 1863, an average of about 
11,000 in each infantry corps, in the neighborhood of 
10,000 cavalry ready for the field and 4,000 artillery 
with 387 guns — making an effective force of about 
102,000 of all arms. The armies thus organized stood 
on opposite sides of the Rappahannock. 

Rumors had reached us soon after our defeat that 
the Confederate authorities proposed another effort to 
turn our flank, similar to that of the year before which 
ended in the battle of Antietam. General Hooker, 
however, seems to have had no valid evidence from his 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

scouts till about May 28tli, that Lee contemplated a 
movement. Even then, opposite our pickets every- 
thing appeared to be in statu quo. On June 5th I rode 
from my headquarters, then near Brooks's Station on 
the Aquia Creek Eailway, to Hooker's headquarters, 
and, returning, made a note that the day before there 
was cannonading near Fredericksburg — a sort of a re- 
connoissance in force on our part, with an attempt to 
lay a bridge; that some brigades of the enemy were 
reported moving off, but that as soon as our troops 
began to show signs of making a crossing their bri- 
gades reappeared. It was the very afternoon of my 
ride to headquarters (June 5th) that the bridges were 
thrown over the Rappahannock, near Franklin's cross- 
ing. There was some resistance, but only by skirmish- 
ers. The same method was pursued as at the Fred- 
ericksburg battle, and the sending over soldiers in 
boats served to dislodge the enemy's pickets and secure 
the crossing. 

Early eTune 6th, General Howe, of the Sixth Corps, 
moved his division to the enemy's side and made ready 
to advance, but orders from Halleck were so positive 
not to move over to attack in that quarter that it was 
impossible by a simple demonstration long to deceive 
Lee. At first, Lee did bring back some troops, put 
them in readiness to withstand Howe, and sent check- 
ing orders to other of his forces which were already 
en route toward the west. But very soon Howe's 
movement was plainly seen to be but a demonstra- 
tion, and, so believing. General Lee went on to carry 
out his purpose. 

Lee's forces had for some days been in motion. 
Stuart with his cavalry was watching the Eappahan- 
nock, with his headquarters not far from Culpeper; 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

Longstreet's corps was concentrated there, and Ewell 
en route. Lee himself started, after Howe's demon- 
stration, for the same point. Culpeper was to be to 
him the point of a new departure. Besides Howe's re- 
connoissance, General Hooker determined to make an- 
other by cavalry supported by infantry. A scouting 
party had been organized. General Adelbert Ames, 
commanding an infantry brigade, departed to proceed 
up the Eappahannock and attack Stuart or intercept 
one of his raids. Underwood's regiment (Thirty-third 
Massachusetts) formed part of Ames's command. 
His wife and little daughter had just arrived in camp. 
But I was obliged to choose his regiment, deeming it the 
best fitted for the work to be done. I wrote June 10th : 
'' An engagement is now in progress between our cav- 
alry and that of General Stuart, not far from Culpeper. 
General Ames with his brigade must be there. I do 
hope this affair will be a success worth the mention. I 
understand that Stuart was completely surprised just 
as he was getting ready to go on some expedition to 
the north of us. Particulars of the engagement have 
not yet come to hand. One brigade of General Sedg- 
wick's corps (Russell's) is also with Pleasonton, who 
now commands our cavalry. A division of the same 
corps is still across the river below Fredericksburg. 
Our own guns cover these troops, and they can stay 
there in safety as long as they please. Harry Stinson, 
my aid-de-camp, went with General Ames." 

Stuart, having spent much time in putting his cav- 
alry into excellent condition, had written General Lee 
entreating him to come and give it a review. On June 
7th Lee joined him near Culpeper, when with a smile 
he said, as he pointed to Longstreet's corps, " Here I 
am with my friends, according to your invitation." 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

The next day, in the open country, not far from 
Brandy Station, upon ground well fitted for the pur- 
pose, Stuart caused his whole cavalry force to pass in 
review before his general-in-chief . It is said that 
Stuart, in such presence, was not content with a simple 
review, but drilled his brigades and exercised them in 
a sham fight, freely using his light artillery. 

After these exercises, Stuart placed his headquar- 
ters upon a knoll called Fleetwood Hill, situated to the 
north of Brandy Station, and here followed the battle 
of Brandy Station between Stuart and Pleasonton, 
where the latter developed the fact that not only was 
Stuart's command in the neighborhood of Culpeper, 
but also an entire corps, and probably more of infan- 
try; and, further, he had the captured plan of Lee's 
campaign in his possession. Therefore, Pleasonton 
now slowly withdrew across the Eappahannock, reach- 
ing the other side before dark and sending his impor- 
tant report to Hooker. He had lost, in killed, wounded, 
and missing, about 600 men, and also two pieces of 
artillery. Stuart's loss was fully equal to ours. This 
conflict, mainly a cavalry engagement, at the beginning 
of the campaign, hard as it seems to have been, was 
of decided advantage to our cavalry, for, under good 
leadership, it had been able to take the offensive and 
hold its own against equal if not superior numbers of 
the well-handled and enterprising Confederates. Ever 
after, during the campaign, the brigades of cavalry 
rivaled each other in desperate charges, and in often 
meeting and withstanding bodies of infantry that were 
undertaking to turn our flanks. 

It now appears that General Hooker, after obtain- 
ing the information which he had desired from Pleas- 
onton's reconnoissance, urged upon General Halleck 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

and the President the wisdom of crossing the Rappa- 
hannock at Falmouth and striking Hill's corps with his 
whole force. He believed that this course would give 
him a successful battle, if Hill should wait for him on 
the Marye Heights ; or, otherwise, at the worst, would 
force a return of Hill and a recall of all the Confeder- 
ate forces intended for the invasion of Pennsylvania. 

In my judgment there was at that time no possible 
success for our Republic except in a great victory to 
be gained by the Army of the Potomac ; not in fighting 
for position, not for Richmond, but in encountering 
and defeating the confident Army of Northern Vir- 

What Mr. Lincoln evidently desired was that Gen- 
eral Hooker should consider Lee's army as the objec- 
tive; strike it in its weakest point; divide it and fight 
it in detail, if possible ; but not ignore it. 

Lee's movements in his northward march are now 
very plain to us, but just what they would be could 
not then be predicted. He used his lively cavalry as 
a curtain, supporting it by one corps; appearing here 
and there with it, as if moving on Washington or Bal- 
timore, and thus drawing our whole attention to this 
work; while the remainder of the Confederates stead- 
ily kept on their way through Chester Gap, across the 
Shenandoah, down the valley of that river, and picked 
up our small armies which we always kept carefully 
separated and ready for Confederate consumption! 

It was some time, and after reiteration, before I 
came to comprehend at West Point what our old Pro- 
fessor Mahan meant by " common sense." At last I 
defined it, " a state of mind the result of careful ob- 
servation." There was certainly a want of this kind 
of common sense at the War Office in June, 1863. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

There had already been given us several lessons in 
sight of the Shenandoah. Hooker was to cover Wash- 
ington and Harper's Ferry, yet the troops at and be- 
yond Harper's Ferry were not under his command. 

On June 10th (the very next day after the bloody 
combat of Brandy Station) Stonewall Jackson's old 
corps, now under General Ewell, began its march from 
Culpeper into the Shenandoah Valley, and there de- 
feated Milroy at Winchester. 

The evening of June 17, 1863, I made this pencil 
note : " Goose Creek, near Leesburg. — The weather has 
been very hot and dry. We have marched as follows : 
twelve miles, nineteen, eighteen; rested two days, and 
then marched seventeen. I was a little feverish at 
Centreville, but am now quite recovered. This corps 
(the Eleventh) has marched in very orderly style and 
all my orders are obeyed with great alacrity. June 18, 
1863. — Almost too hot for campaigning. I am wait- 
ing for orders. General headquarters (Hooker's) are 
thirty miles away just now, at Fairfax Court House. 
Charlie (Major C. H. Howard) is quite well, and so is 
Captain Stinson, aid-de-camp. Charlie has just at this 
time gone to General Eeynolds's camp, and Captain 
Stinson to that of General Meade. I have a new officer 
on my staff — Captain Daniel Hall, additional aid-de- 
camp, formerly John P. Hale's private secretary — a 
very fine young man. He has been sick and I am afraid 
he will not stand the fatigue." 

When in permanent camps our notes and letters 
were kept up with much regularity, but when the long 
marches began they became few and short. We first, 
setting out the next day after Ames's return from 
Brandy Station, came to Catlett's Station. General J. 
F. Reynolds was given a wing of the army, just then 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

the right; it consisted of the First (his own corps), the 
Third (Sickles's), and the Eleventh (mine). When I 
was at Catlett's, the First was a little west of south of 
me at Bealton Station, and the Third Corps, which had 
begun its march on June 11th, was above the Rappa- 
hannock Station and near the famous Beverly Ford. 
These three bodies were facing Culpeper and in eche- 
lon. Should Lee attempt a close turn of our position, 
we could quietly form line facing southwest, or even 
to the north, and become at once the nucleus for the 
whole army. 

Hooker obtained information that E well's entire 
corps had passed Sperryville. This news came during 
June 12th. He then hesitated not a moment, but is- 
sued the necessary orders to place his army farther 
north. We marched on the 14th to occupy Manassas 
Junction and Centreville, while three other corps — the 
Second, Sixth, and Twelfth — had set out the 13th, aim- 
ing for the neighborhood of Fairfax Court House; 
the Fifth (Meade's), which had been nearly opposite 
the United States Ford, on the Rappahannock, fol- 
lowed us toward Manassas, to reenforce Reynolds if 
the occasion should arise. It was there at Centreville 
that he remained two days, the 15th and 16th. 

On June 17th Reynolds's wing, including the Fifth 
Corps, was pressed still farther northward and 
grouped substantially about Leesburg, while General 
Hooker's headquarters remained near Fairfax Court 
House. In this way it will be noticed that our wing — 
about one-fifth of the army — was first grouped in 
echelon facing south. The next move brought it in the 
same order facing west. The third move carried it to 
the northwest and uncovered the other corps, which 
were looking westward from positions nearer Wash- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ington. A division of cavalry under General Stahl, 
who had been scouting this region from Leesburg to 
Manassas, was released by the presence of an army 
and enabled to unite with Pleasonton and increase his 
force. Pleasonton with his cavalry had carefully 
watched the Rapjoahannock to its sources and then fol- 
lowed up the movements of Stuart and Longstreet, 
whose forces he usually kept in view at least by his 
scouting parties and outposts. Lee's rear corps, under 
A. P. Hill, left Fredericksburg as soon as Hooker's 
troops disappeared from his front, June 14th, and 
pushed on with great rapidity across the Rapidan, 
through Culpeper, Chester Gap, and Front Royal into 
the Shenandoah Valley, keeping upon Ewell's track. 
His peril was over. He had quickly placed two ranges 
of mountains, a river, Longstreet's infantry, and 
Stuart's cavalry between his command and our army. 
Longstreet, with his large and effective army corps, 
was designated to march down the eastern bank of the 
Shenandoah River as a cover to the other troops and 
materiel of Lee's army, while Stuart acted as a body 
of flankers to Longstreet, keeping upon the ridges or 
in the valleys nearer still to our command. Pleason- 
ton and Stuart often came into contact. 

The two armies were then (on June 17th) pretty 
well concentrated and much alike — Lee, in the Shenan- 
doah Valley, with one corps (Longstreet's), and Stu- 
art's cavalry near the crest of the Blue Ridge ; Hooker, 
in the valley of the Potomac, between Lee and Wash- 
ington, with one corps (the Fifth), and his cavalry 
(Pleasonton's) on the crest of the Blue Ridge Range. 
Stuart and Pleasonton were crossing the east and 
west road, and but few miles apart. 

During that day (June 18, 1863), while the greater 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

part of the army was waiting to see just what Lee 
would attempt next, and when the weather was so 
warm in the Goose Creek Valley that I considered it 
too hot for campaigning ; while aids and orderlies were 
skipping from corps to corps, with great difficulty and 
danger to life, through a country infested by Mosby's 
guerrillas, in order to keep us mutually informed and 
properly instructed, Pleasonton and Stuart were act- 
ing like two combatants playing and fencing with small 
swords. Neither wished to hasten a battle. Stuart 
took a stand at Middleburg. Pleasonton cautiously 
approached, skirmished, and moved as if to turn 
Stuart by the left. Stuart declined the close quarters, 
and fell back southward. But, as if a little ashamed 
of backing off, the early morning of the 19th found 
Stuart in a good defensive attitude west of Mid- 

Pleasonton made a vigorous attack. For eight 
miles there was a running fight till Stuart had concen- 
trated his forces on the last ridge at Ashby's Gap — the 
pass of the Blue Ridge. Here he saw the columns of 
Lee slowly in motion toward the north. 

My pencil note dated June 22, 1863, indicated the 
position of the Army of the Potomac to be: the 
Eleventh Corps at Goose Creek, not far from Lees- 
burg, Va. ; the Fifth, still under General Meade, some- 
where near Adlie. The Second Corps had been pushed 
out from Centreville to Thoroughfare Gap. The re- 
mainder of the army was not far from the Eleventh 
Corps. General Hooker was endeavoring to get from 
Halleck and Stanton another fair-sized corps. It was 
to be a cooperating force, to move up rapidly on the 
eastern side of the Potomac. It could check cavalry 
raids like those of Jenkins, who, having preceded 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Ewell in Pennsylvania, had gathered horses, cattle, 
and other suj^plies from Chambersburg and its neigh- 
borhood, securing them from the fleeing and terrified 
inhabitants. This corps should be strong enough to 
meet and hold back any small or sizable body of the 
enemy's infantry, should Lee decide to send Early, 
Eodes, or even Ewell across the Potomac into Cumber- 
land Valley with a view of scattering the troops, so as 
to live on the country and bring together and send to 
him much-coveted and much-needed contributions of 
food for his large command. But for some reason 
there was at Washington a want of confidence in Gen- 
eral Hooker. Troops which were promised for this 
purpose were never sent ; some which had been ordered 
and had set out for the rendezvous were stopped by 
Heintzelman's or Halleck's subordinates. Schenck 
furnished a few — a single brigade — under Colonel 
Lockwood; but these were insufficient for the avowed 
purpose, and what was worse to Hooker than the with- 
holding was the manner in which it was done. Hooker 
was, at that time, suffered to be overridden by subor- 
dinate commanders, whom, to his chagrin, his seniors 
in authority sustained. 

On June 24th we were still at Goose Creek. The 
day before, my brother, the Kev. R. B, Howard, a mem- 
ber of the celebrated Christian Commission, reached 
our camp after a ride of forty-five miles and some little 
exposure to " bushwhackers." The word " bushwhack- 
ers " comprehended scouts, spies, and all partisan in- 
surgents who were never really made part of the Con- 
federate army. They penetrated our lines in spite of 
every precaution, picked off our aids and messengers 
on their swift journeyings from corps to corps, and 
circulated every sort of false story that might be made 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

use of to mislead us. In this Goose Creek region we 
were much annoyed by them. It was near here that 
Mosby with his peculiar force of guerrillas came near 
capturing me. In a small thicket which had grown up 
not far from the road a part of Mosby' s men were con- 
cealed. They saw horsemen approaching, at first at a 
slow pace, but we outnumbered them, so their leader 
decided not to attack. I was glad of that decision, for 
I had then simply orderlies, servants, and spare horses, 
with but few armed soldiers. 

The Confederate Corps Commander Ewell, as 
early as June 20th, withdrew from Winchester and 
marched on above Harper's Ferry. Edward John- 
son's division crossed the Potomac at Sharpsburg and 
encamped on our old battlefield of Antietam; Rodes's 
division went on to Hagerstown; but Jubal Early's 
division was detained on the western bank of the river. 
This disposition of the enemy's leading corps when re- 
ported to Hooker puzzled him, as it did the War De- 
partment. What was Lee, after all, intending to do? 
This occasioned the singular multiplicity and sudden 
changes of orders. For example, on the 24th, the 
Eleventh Corps was first ordered to proceed to Sandy 
Hook, just below Harper's Ferry; next, before setting 
out, it was to cross the Potomac instead, at Edwards' 
Ferry, and report from that place to the headquarters 
of the army; next, to cross over there and push at 
once for Harper's Ferry. Soon after General Hooker 
directed me to go into camp on the right bank of the 
Potomac, and before that was fulfilled the orders were 
again changed to pass to the left bank of the river and 
guard the bridges. Surely somebody was nervous ! 

At last, on this same day. General Tyler, who was 
still the commander at Maryland Heights, gave Gen- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

eral Hooker some definite information: that Long- 
street was crossing the Potomac at Shepherdstown. 
In a letter, which must have been sent before Tyler's 
dispatch came, General Hooker explains to General 
Halleck briefly his thoughts and plans. He says that 
Ewell is already over the Potomac; that he shall en- 
deavor, without being observed by Lee, to send a corps 
or two to Harper's Ferry, with a view to sever Ewell 
from the remainder of Lee's army. This he would at- 
tempt in case Ewell should make a protracted sojourn 
with his Pennsylvania neighbors. 

Of course, Tyler's report about Longstreet changed 
all this. It was now too late to cut off Ewell — too late 
to think of dividing Lee's army by way of Harper's 
Ferry. It was evident also that Lee proposed to put 
his whole force east of the Potomac. Washington and 
Baltimore would be passed, and Harrisburg menaced. 

My instructions the morning of June 25th became 
clear and positive : " Send a staff officer to General 
Eeynolds to report to him ; move your command in the 
direction of Middletown instead of Sandy Hook." 
Ee}Tiolds still commanded the wing, viz., the First, 
Third, and Eleventh Corps, and was ordered to seize 
the passes of South Mountain, and thus confine the 
Confederate general " to one line of invasion." I do 
not suppose this reason thus given amounted to much. 
If Lee had taken several lines of invasion he would 
have divided his forces and enabled us the better to 
strike him in detail ; but, indeed, it was a wise move of 
Hooker to thus threaten Lee's line of communication, 
while he completely covered and protected his own. 
Of course, had he pressed on hard and close in that 
quarter, Lee would have been forced to stop all inva- 
sion and turn his attention constantly and completely 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

to his adversary. Middletown was quickly reached; 
Harper's Ferry (or rather the Maryland Heights) was 
held, and the lower passes of the South Mountain were 
within our grasp. 

In one day the army could at last be concentrated 
in that vicinity, because our wing under Reynolds had 
been followed up by the other corps. Slocum, with the 
Twelfth Corps, having crossed at Edwards' Ferry the 
26th, had moved rapidly toward Harper's Ferry. The 
other three, with the artillery reserve, hastening over 
the Potomac the same day — for there were two good 
pontoon bridges for their use — moved up to Frederick 
and vicinity. Thus the Army of the Potomac was the 
morning of June 27th well in hand, in good condition, 
and rather better located for the offensive or the 
offensive-defensive operations than the year before 
under McClellan, when it approached the field of An- 
tietam in about the same locality. Hooker had gone 
off to Harper's Ferry to see if it was feasible to begin 
a movement from his left. He had asked for Tyler's 
command near there. He now proposed the abandon- 
ment of Harper's Ferry as a garrison or station after 
the stores should be withdrawn. He could not afford 
to hold the works in that neighborhood at the expense 
of losing the services of 11,000 men, just then changed 
to General French. Halleck rejoined, in substance, 
that Harper's Ferry had always been deemed of great 
importance, and that he could not consent to its aban- 

Hooker then sent this famous dispatch : " My origi- 
nal instructions were to cover Harper's Ferry and 
Washington. I have now imposed upon me in addition 
an enemy in my front of more than my numbers. I 
beg to be understood, respectfully, but firmly, that I 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

am unable to comply with these conditions with the 
means at my disposal, and I earnestly request that I 
may be relieved at once from the position I occupy." 

As if at once abandoning his own plan, General 
Hooker, after sending this dispatch, sent the Twelfth 
Corps to Frederick and went there himself. The 
next day, June 28th, General Hardie, a staff officer 
from the War Department, arrived at Frederick with 
the formal orders which relieved General Hooker of 
his command, and appointed in his place the com- 
mander of the Fifth Corps, General George G. Meade.* 

A comrade feels less and less inclined to criticise 
with any severity Hooker's intended work. There were 
jealousies ; there were ambitions ; there was discontent, 
and often insubordination in our army. General Hook- 
er had formerly severely criticised McClellan. He had 
accounted for his own want of success at his own first 
attempt at supreme command by blaming others. Eeac- 
tions would come. McClellan's friends and many others 
somehow impressed our large-hearted and frank- 
spoken President with the feeling that Hooker was not 
fully trusted in the army; so he wrote him at the out- 
set of this campaign, June 14th : " I have some painful 
intimations that some of your corps and division com- 
manders are not giving you their entire confidence." 

From facts in my possession I am sure that this was 
a mild statement of the case, and I think it more of a re- 
flection upon those who manifested the distrust than upon 
Hooker. But now, taking everything into account, I be- 
lieve that, ill-timed as it seemed, the change of command- 
ers was a good thing — especially good for that unex- 
plainable something called the " morale of the army." 

* Major General George Sykes then became the permanent Commander 
of the Fifth Corps. 


Campaign of Gettysburg 

Lee and his officers did not rejoice when they 
learned that the able, upright, and well-reputed Meade 
had succeeded Hooker. 

As soon as Meade took command of the Army of 
the Potomac he exhibited a mind of his own, and imme- 
diately changed the plan of our march. My corps (the 
Eleventh) turned at once from Middletown, Md., to 
Frederick, arriving there on the evening of June 28th. 
The army was at this time concentrated around this 
pretty little city. As soon as I reached the town I went 
at once to headquarters full of excitement and interest, 
awakened by the sudden changes that were taking 

I had known Meade before the war, having met him 
and traveled with him on our northern lakes when he 
was on engineering duty in that region, and I had seen 
him frequently after the outbreak of hostilities. But 
he seemed different at Frederick. He was excited. 
His coat was off, for those June days were very warm. 
As I entered his tent, he extended his hand, and said : 

" How are you, Howard? " 

He demurred at any congratulation. He looked 
tall and spare, weary, and a little flushed, but I knew 
him to be a good, honest soldier, and gathered confi- 
dence and hope from his thoughtful face. To him I 
appeared but a lad, for he had graduated in 1835 at 
the Military Academy, nineteen years before me. He 
had served in the artillery among the Indians ; in the 
Topographical Engineers on our rivers and lakes; in 
Mexico, where he was brevetted for his gallantry, and 
had become favorably known at Washington for good 
work in the lighthouse service. Then, finally, in the 
rebellion all our eyes had been turned to him for the 
completeness of every work that he had thus far un- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

dertaken with his Pennsylvania reserves. He won me 
more by his thoroughness and fidelity than by any 
show of sympathy or companionship. To me, of 
course, he stood in the light of an esteemed, experi- 
enced regular officer, old enough to be my father, but 
like a father that one can trust without his showing 
him any special regard. So we respected and trusted 
Meade from the beginning. 




GENERAL MEADE at once began the sending of 
his forces so much eastward that we knew that 
any movement against Lee's rear or the Confeder- 
ate communications via Harper's Ferry had been 
given up. 

The evening of June 28, 1863, the whole army was 
at or near Frederick, Md. In his dispatch that evening 
Meade said : " I propose to move this army to-morrow 
in the direction of York." 

By a glance at the map it will be seen that this plan 
was the precise opposite of that of Hooker, as indi- 
cated by his dispatches two days before. The reason 
for the change was that Lee was reported not only on 
our side of the Potomac, but as already occupying 
Chambersburg, Carlisle, and threatening Harrisburg, 
and having at least a brigade in the town of York. He 
did not just then seem to care greatly for his commu- 
nications, any more than did Hannibal of old after he 
had once obtained his strong foothold on the Continent 
of Europe. Lee had now com, flour, cattle, and horses 
in abundance, and the farther north he pushed, the 
more sumptuous would be his supply. Lee's position 
in Pennsylvania gave ominous threats to Harrisburg 
and Philadelphia, caused real fright to the loyal people 
of Baltimore, and to the administration at Washing- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ton. The life of the Nation was in its greatest peril — 
it appeared to hang upon but a thread of hope, and, 
under God, the thread was Meade and his army. 

A little later information determined our general 
to cover more ground, to stretch out in line of corps 
as he moved forward. An army line in a campaign is 
now a day's march or more long. After our marches 
of June 29th, the First and Eleventh Corps were on 
the left of that extended line at Emmittsburg; the 
Third and Twelfth at Taneytown, where was General 
Meade himself; the Second at Frizelburg; the Fifth 
at Union, and the Sixth at New Windsor. 

This grand army line looking northward had most 
of its cavalry under Pleasonton, well forward — one di- 
vision under Buford aiming for Gettysburg, and the 
others fighting and chasing the Confederate cavalry, 
which daringly swept around our army between us and 
Washington and Baltimore and Philadelphia. The 
army of Meade was also well supported by a fine re- 
serve ; for Halleck, strange to tell, had given to Meade 
what he had withholden from Hooker, namely, the 
force at Harper's Ferry. French moved it, now 11,000 
strong, to Frederick, Md. It here constituted a cover 
to our depots, to Washington communications, and a 
ready help for any contingency. 

The infantry and artillery extended over a large 
area. Military experts ask : " Was not this an error 
of Meade's, to so move forward his command, exposing 
his left to be attacked by at least two-thirds of Lee's 
army! " Meade's answer is in his own words : " If Lee 
is moving for Baltimore, I expect to get between his 
main army and that place. If he is crossing the Sus- 
quehanna, I shall rely upon General Couch holding him 
until I can fall upon his rear and give him battle." 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

But Lee was already drawing back his scattered 
forces to the neighborhood of Chambersburg and 
watching toward Gettysburg, to see what could be be- 
hind the bold pushing of John Buford's cavalry divi- 
sion in that neighborhood. He began his concentration 
before Meade could do so, and upon the flank where 
he was not expected to concentrate. 

On the last day of June a few changes in our posi- 
tion took place. The First Corps, under John F. Rey- 
nolds, went to " Marsh Run," about five miles from 
Gettysburg; the Eleventh, under my command, re- 
mained at Emmittsburg for that day; the Third 
(Sickles's corps) moved from Taneytown to a point 
near Emmittsburg; the Twelfth (Slocum's) went 
forward and encamped near Littlestown. The head- 
quarters and remaining corps did not change. Bu- 
ford's cavalry was kept ahead of Reynolds, in the 
vicinity of Gettysburg. 

On June 30th the Confederate army formed a con- 
cave line (concavity toward us), embracing Chambers- 
burg, Carlisle, and York. Ours formed an indented 
line, extending from Marsh Run to Westminster, 
the left of that line being thrown far forward. If Lee 
could bring his men together east of the South Moun- 
tain, near Cashtown, it would appear that he might 
strike us in the flank — before we could assemble — blow 
after blow, and beat us in detail. Of course, it was a 
bold undertaking. The safe course of a cautious mind 
would have been different — probably to have concen- 
trated beyond the South Mountain as Lee had done at 
Antietam ; but Longstreet was at hand, and urged Lee 
to adopt more risky measures with the hope of obtain- 
ing grander results. 

So, then, while we were feeling around in the dark- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ness of conflicting rumors and contradictory informa- 
tion, Lee, June 29th, designated a point east of South 
Mountain, behind Cashtown and Gettysburg, for the 
grand gathering of his forces. When the order came 
Ewell was near Harrisburg; he had already drawn 
back Early's division from York. Early's and Rodes's, 
with the corps chief, coming together, succeeded in 
reaching Heidelsburg, about ten miles north of Gettys- 
burg, the evening of the 30th, but Johnson's division, 
obeying the same orders, had gone from Carlisle back 
toward Chambersburg. He, however, took a left-hand 
road by the way of Greenwood, and encamped the 
same night near Scotland, a hamlet west of the moun- 
tain. The other two corps — Longstreet's and Hill's — 
were not far in advance of Ewell's; for, though they 
had shorter distances they had fewer routes from 
which to choose. Hill's corps led, and was at or near 
Cashtown the evening of the 30th. 

Longstreet, with two divisions, remained that night 
near Greenwood, at the west entrance to Cashtown 
Gap. One division only — that of Pickett — caring for 
Lee's transportation, remained behind, at Chambers- 
burg. The Confederate commander then had, the 
night of June 30th, the bulk of his army — probably be- 
tween 50,000 and 60,000 men — ^within fifteen miles of 
Gettysburg. His leading division (Heth's of Hill's 
corps) had already encountered our cavalry. After 
Heth had arrived in Cashtown, eight miles from 
Gettysburg, he sent, on the 30th, Pettigrew's brigade 
with wagons to that town for shoes and other supplies. 
Pettigrew was just entering the suburbs at 11 a.m., 
when he discovered Buford's division rapidly ap- 
proaching. Pettigrew, who expected only detached 
militia, being surprised by meeting our cavalry, Imme- 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

diately withdrew and marched back four miles toward 
his own division, halted at Marsh Run on the Cashtown 
road, and reported to his chief that Meade's army in 
force was near at hand. 

At that time Stuart's Confederate cavalry was not 
with the main army to bring him information, but was 
hastening to Lee's left flank. 

In this irregular manner, on the last day of June, 
the two great armies, each in the aggregate near 100,- 
000 strong, came so close to contact that Lee's right 
and our left had exchanged shots at Gettysburg. 

In the subsequent operations of our army and in 
the changes of commanders incident to the coming 
bloody conflicts, the left (three army corps) was still 
called the Right Wing; but the corps were really lo- 
cated on the extreme left of Meade's general line. Bu- 
ford's division of cavalry cooperated with this wing, 
brought its chief all the information it gathered, and 
handsomely cleared its front. The Comte de Paris re- 
marks of the cavalry leader and of the commander of 
the wing : 

" Meade intrusted the task of clearing and direct- 
ing his left to two men equally noted for quickness of 
perception, promptness of decision, and gallantry on 
the battlefield — Buford and Reynolds." This is just 

There were several kinds of officers to serve imder, 
as every man who was in the army for any consider- 
able time as a subordinate will admit. A few were 
simply tyrants; some were exacting as commanders, 
but always fair and ready to recognize work; some 
were courteous enough in deportment, but held sub- 
ordinates to an extreme responsibility, striving to do 
so in such way as to clear themselves of all adverse 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

criticism. Others belittled the aid rendered them, and 
absorbed the credit to themselves and threw all faults 
at another's door ; others, still, who had a steady hand 
in governing, were generous to a fault, quick to recog- 
nize merit, trusted you and sought to gain your 
confidence, and, as one would anticipate, were the fore- 
most in battle. These generally secured the best re- 
sults in administration and in active campaigning. To 
the last class belonged General Eeynolds. From sol- 
diers, cadets, and officers, junior and senior, he always 
secured reverence for his serious character, respect for 
his ability, care for his uniform discipline, admiration 
for his fearlessness, and love for his unfailing gener- 
osity. He was much like General George H. Thomas, 
not, however, so reticent and, I should judge, not quite 
so tenacious of purpose. It was always a pleasure to 
be under the command of either. I had been for 
some time during this campaign reporting to Eey- 

At Emmittsburg, June 30th, I had only changed the 
position of my corps from the east to the northwest of 
the village. There was an establishment (probably 
we should call it a college) under the care of several 
Jesuit fathers. On my arrival the 29th, in the neigh- 
borhood, these met me very pleasantly, and begged me 
to make my headquarters with them. That day had 
been cold and rainy, the roads heavy, and the march 
very tiresome. I yielded to the tempting offer of hos- 
pitality, and instead of pitching my tent or stretching 
my " fly " as usual, I went to enjoy the neat and com- 
fortable bed which was offered me. Here, too, I was 
to pass the night of the 30th. It was about dark when 
a message came from Eeynolds. He desired me to ride 
up to his headquarters, situated about six miles off on 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

the Emmittsburg and Gettysburg road, where the 
Marsh Run crosses it. 

Taking Lieutenant F. W. Gilbreth, my aid-de-camp, 
and an orderly, I set out immediately, and in less than 
an hour found my way to the little house which Rey- 
nolds occupied. It was near the run, on the right-hand 
side of the road. Dismounting, I was at once shown 
into a back room near the south end of the house. 
Reynolds rose to meet me; he was here occupyiug a 
room which had in it but little furniture — a table and 
a few chairs. The table appeared to be laden with 
papers, apparently maps and official dispatches. After 
the usual cordial greeting, he first handed me the con- 
fidential appeal which General Meade had just made 
to his army commanders. In this Meade expressed 
the confident belief that if the officers fitly addressed 
the men of their commands, they would respond loy- 
ally to their appeal. He urged every patriotic senti- 
ment which he felt assured would arouse to enthusiasm 
and action his whole army, now on the threshold of 
the battlefield — a field which he felt might decide the 
fate of the Republic. After reading this communica- 
tion, we next went over the news dispatches of the day. 
They were abundant and conflicting. They came from 
headquarters at Taneytown, from Buford at Gettys- 
burg, from scouts, from alarmed citizens, from all di- 
rections. They, however, forced the conclusion upon 
us, that Lee's infantry and artillery in great force were 
in our neighborhood. 

Longstreet's corps, which had been with General 
Lee himself at Chambersburg, had come toward us; 
Hill's, which was lately at Fayetteville, had already 
passed the mountain and his nearest camp was not 
more than four miles from Gettysburg. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

We spent tlie entire evening together, looking over 
the different maps, discussing the probabilities of a 
great battle, and talking of the part our wing would be 
likely to play in the conflict. 

Eeynolds seemed depressed, almost as if he had a 
presentiment of his death so near at hand. Probably 
he was anxious on account of the scattered condition 
of our army, particularly in view of the sudden con- 
centration of the enemy. 

At about eleven I took my leave of the general, and 
rode rapidly back to headquarters. I retired to my 
comfortable bed in the college and was soon fast 
asleep. It could not have been an hour before a loud 
knocking at the door aroused me. 

"What is it, orderly?" I asked. 

" Orders from army headquarters." 

I took the bundle of papers in my hand. The ad- 
dress was to Eeynolds as the wing commander. To 
forestall the possibility of their loss between Emmitts- 
burg and Marsh Run, I opened the dispatches, as was 
customary, read them, and sent them forward with a 

The orders were as follows : " Orders — Headquar- 
ters at Taneytown — Third Corps to Emmittsburg ; 
Second Corps to Taneytown ; Fifth Corps to Hanover ; 
Twelfth Corps to Two Taverns ; First Corps to Gettys- 
burg; Eleventh Corps to Gettysburg (in supporting 
distance) ; Sixth Corps to Manchester; cavalry to front 
and flanks, well out in all directions, giving timely 
notice of positions and movements of the enemy." 

With these orders came a clear indication of 
Meade's opinion of the location of Hill and Longstreet, 
as between Chambersburg and Gettysburg, while Ewell 
was believed to be still occupying Carlisle and York. 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

He closed his circular letter with these significant 
words : " The general believes he has relieved Harris- 
burg and Philadelphia, and now desires to look to his 
own army and assume position for offensive or defen- 
sive, or for rest to the troops." 

The town of Gettysburg covers about one square 
mile, and is situated in an undulating valley, through 
which runs Eock Creek. This small stream, fed by 
three or four smaller ones, courses from the north and 
flows southeast of the town. The Cemetery Ridge, so 
often described, begins at Culp's Hill, broadens out on 
the top westerly to take in the cemetery itself, and 
then turns to trend due south to Zeigler's Grove ; then 
bends a little south, to ascend gradually a rugged, rocky 
knoll — Little Eound Top. Farther on is a rougher, 
higher, and larger prominence called Big Eound Top. 
Four important wagon roads traverse the region; the 
road due east from Bonaughton, just showing Ben- 
ner's Hill on its north side; the Baltimore pike from 
the southeast, crossing White Run and Rock Creek, 
and after passing the cemetery enters the village ; the 
Taneytown road skirting the east slope of the main 
ridge, going near the Round Tops and entering Gettys- 
burg along one of its main streets; and the Emmitts- 
burg road, which passes by the west side of the Round 
Tops and Sherfy's peach orchard, and makes a west- 
erly sweep well out from the ridge, comes back to cut 
the Taneytown road, and ends at the Baltimore pike 
just below the cemetery and near the town. 

The Seminary Ridge lies toward the west, and is 
nearly parallel with the Cemetery Ridge, and about 
one mile from it. It is, however, a third longer, and 
passes considerably beyond the village. The Wil- 
loughby Run, with a southern flow bearing off with the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ranges of heights, courses between the Seminary 
Crest and the next higher western ridge. 

As the day dawned that memorable July 1, 1863, 
with somewhat less than 5,000 cavalry, Buford was 
fully ready. General John Buford was a health- 
ful, hardy cavalry officer, born in Kentucky, a gradu- 
ate from the Military Academy of the class of 1848. 
He especially distinguished himself during the war 
for boldness in pushing up close to his foe; for 
great dash in his assaults, and, at the same time, for 
shrewdness and prudence in the presence of a force 
larger than his own. The night before, he had de- 
ployed his brigade beyond Gettysburg so as to cover 
the approaches from the west, jDushing his pickets and 
scouting far out on the different roads. He knew that 
he must contend against infantry, so he dismounted his 
men and prepared them to fight on foot. Devin's bri- 
gade held the right and Gamble's the left. Devin was 
between Chambersburg Railroad and Mummasburg 
road. Gamble extended his lines so as to cover the 
space leftward as far as the Middletown road. 

The Confederates were early in motion. This time 
Pettigrew was reenforced by the remainder of Heth's 
division. Their head of column reached Buford's pick- 
ets a little after sunrise, and their skirmishers came 
within sight of the seminary and Buford's artillery 
before nine o'clock. 

Without hesitation Buford's command opened fire 
upon them, enfilading the roads with his horse artil- 
lery, and confidently breasting against them with small 
arms from his extended line. Doubtless, Confederate 
Heth thought there must be something besides a cav- 
alry division in his front, for at once he put his com- 
mand in order of battle. The cavalry, showing the 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

tenacity of infantry, prolonged the struggle until even 
the leading corps commander of Lee, A. P. Hill, ar- 
rived with Pender's division. 

It is said that watchers from the Lutheran Semi- 
nary, who could from that high point look westward 
far out toward Cashtown along the Chambersburg 
pike and behold the thickening columns of Lee, could 
also at that moment toward the south see our own 
bright flags approaching amid the rising mists. The 
sun in its heat was clearing the valleys, and Reynolds 
with his First Corps was on the field and soon met 
Buford near the seminary. 

It appears that Reynolds, who commanded our 
wing, gave that morning the immediate charge of the 
First Corps to his senior division commander, General 
Abner Doubleday, who set out for the front with the 
main body. Reynolds, going rapidly to the position of 
Gamble, encouraged Buford's weary cavalrymen to 
hold on a little longer, then he sent his oflScers as 
guides to conduct Wadsworth directly from the Em- 
mittsburg road across the fields to the Seminary Hill. 
He also at this time sent an officer to meet me on the 
road from Emmittsburg. 

Doubleday had now come up, so that there were 
together the wing, the corps, and two division com- 
manders, yet thus far only two brigades of infantry 
and the weary division of cavalry to withstand the 
large corps of A. P. Hill. But Wadsworth's division 
was well commanded. He himself, of large frame, 
always generous and a natural soldier, had under him 
two reliable brigades. Cutler's and Meredith's ; the lat- 
ter, for its tenacity, was denominated the " Iron Bri- 
gade." In these were some notable regimental com- 
manders who gave strong character to their regiments. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

We noticed how Heth of the Confederates had 
deployed his columns. Davis's, his right brigade, ex- 
tended north of the Chambersbnrg pike and railway, 
seemed to be aiming for Devin's right, while Archer's, 
on his (Davis's) left, deployed southward and ad- 
vanced toward the Seminary Ridge. The firing was 
brisk and our skirmishers retiring. Archer had 
reached the edge of a handsome grove of trees that 
stretched along south of the pike and near Willoughby 

Reynolds quickly made his dispositions. Meredith 
was sent against Archer. He deployed and endeav- 
ored to take the grove in front. Wadsworth, with Cut- 
ler's brave troops, and Buford still there to help him, 
deployed, pressed forward, and opened his lively fire 
upon the enemy's right. Just as General Reynolds be- 
held the movement of his " Iron Brigade " going into 
action, he himself, not far in the rear, on the south 
side of the pike, on a spot now pointed out to every 
traveler, fell, pierced through the head with a rifle 

On July 1st, weary as I was after having been 
awakened by the ominous orders of the night, it was 
necessary to be at work again at dawn. I resolved to 
send Barlow's division by the direct road to Gettys- 
burg; the distance is eleven miles. Steinwehr's and 
Schurz's were to follow a road, clearer and better, a 
little farther to the eastward, passing Horner's Mill 
and entering the route from Taneytown. Being 
obliged to wait for Reynolds's order of execution, the 
columns did not start till 8.30 a.m. 

Barlow that day, always vigorous and pushing, 
owing to the heat of the weather, a road full of ruts 
and stones, and still obstructed by the supply wagons 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

of the precedmg corps, made an average of but two 
and one-half miles per hour. 

With my staff and a small escort of horsemen I set 
out, as the march began, toward Gettysburg, taking the 
fields and woods, in order to avoid the trains and col- 
umns which occupied the roads. Many officers remem- 
ber the rapidity of that ride. By 10.30 a.m., according 
to my own time, I was in sight of the village of Gettys- 
burg, when the staff officer which Reynolds had dis- 
patched on his arrival met me. He gave me informa- 
tion of the commencement of the battle. 

A battle was evidently in progress, judging by the 
soimds of the cannon and small arms and the rising 
smoke, a mile and a half to my left. I could then see 
the divisions of Doubleday, moving along northwest- 
erly across the open fields toward the seminary. My 
previous orders were to keep within supporting dis- 
tance. When neither corps was in action this was in- 
terpreted to be an interval of four or five miles, but 
the aid who met me said : " Come quite up to Gettys- 
burg." I remember distinctly, as if it were but yes- 
terday, asking him where the general desired to place 
me and the aid replied : " Stop anywhere about here, 
according to your judgment, at present." The spot 
where this remark was made was on the Emmitts- 
burg road, near Sherfy's peach orchard. The aid left 
and the firing continued. I sent Captain Daniel Hall 
to find Reynolds and bring me word that I might go 
to him. 

Then with my staff, as was my habit in coming to 
a new field, I began to examine the positions with the 
view of obtaining the best location in that vicinity for 
our troops. I rode from place to place, first visiting 
the high portion of a cross ridge to my left, near the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Emmittsburg road. Not finding a point from which I 
could get an extended view and noticing higher ground 
eastward, I turned and rode to the highest point of the 
Cemetery Ridge. Here was a broad view which em- 
braced the town, the seminary, the college, and all the 
undulating valley of open country spread out between 
the ridges. There was a beautiful break in the ridge 
to the north of me, where Gulp's Hill abuts against the 
cemetery, and touches the creek below. It struck me 
that here one could make a strong right flank. 

Colonel Meysenberg was my adjutant general. We 
sat on our horses, side by side, looking northward, 
when I said: " This seems to be a good position, colo- 
nel," and his own prompt and characteristic reply was : 
" It is the only position, general." We both meant 
position for Meade's army. 

After observing the whole sweep of the country, I 
then made up my mind what I would do with my 
troops, or recommend for Eeynolds's wing, or for the 
army, should my advice be sought, that is, use that 
Cemetery Ridge as the best defensive position within 

Recognizing that one's mind is usually biased in 
favor of his own theory, I have taken great pains to 
ascertain the impressions of others who were associ- 
ated with me as to whether I received any instructions 
or intimation from any quarter whatever touching the 
selection of Cemetery Ridge and Hill. The testimony, 
both direct and indirect, points all one way : that I did 
not; that I chose the position and used it throughout 
the first day of the battle, as we shall see. The aid-de- 
camp of General Reynolds (Captain Rosengarten), 
who thinks he heard General Reynolds tell my aid-de- 
camp that I must occupy Cemetery Ridge, is certainly 

' 410 

The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

in error. Captain Daniel Hall was the only aid of 
mine sent to the general ; the only one who saw him at 
all, and he never brought me any such order or intima- 
tion. In this connection I may quote Captain Hall's 
own words in a letter to me : " You directed me to ride 
forward as rapidly as possible, find General Eeynolds, 
report to him the progress of the Eleventh Corps, and 
ask for his orders. I followed with all speed and over- 
took him nearly at the extreme advance of our troops, 
where the skirmishers and some regiments were 
already hotly engaged. I spoke to General Eeynolds, 
reported to him the approach of the Eleventh Corps, 
as directed, and told him you had sent me to obtain 
his orders. In reply he told me to inform you that he 
had encountered the enemy apparently in force, and 
tc direct you to bring your corps forward as rap- 
idly as possible to the assistance of the first. General 
Reynolds gave no order whatever in regard to occu- 
pying Cemetery Hill, nor did he make any allusion 
to it. 

" I immediately left him to return to you. Retrac- 
ing my steps, I met you hurrying into the town, and 
not far from the cemetery. I communicated to you 
the order of General Reynolds to bring up your column 
as rapidly as possible to the assistance of the First 
Corps, and the order was dispatched immediately back 
to the columns of Schurz and Barlow. Riding into the 
town at your side I remember that, as we passed along 
the road at its base, you pointed to the crest of Ceme- 
tery Ridge on our right and said : ' There's the place 
to fight this battle,' or words to similar effect." 

Speaking of the same thing in another letter to a 
friend in February, 1877, Hall says : " The impression 
has always been firmly fixed in my mind that the first 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

suggestion that I ever heard about occupying Ceme- 
tery Hill was from General Howard." 

Once more, in a subsequent letter to me, Captain 
Hall used these words : " I know to a certainty that no- 
body anticipated you in seeing the importance of 
Cemetery Hill, and immediately acting upon that con- 

Major E. P. Pearson, of the Twenty-first Infantry, 
who was then Captain Pearson, commissary of mus- 
ters, avers the same thing in a letter that lies before 
me. And certainly there is no official communication 
or testimony from any quarter whatever that has ever 
reached me which even claims that any orders for me 
to occupy Cemetery Hill or Eidge were delivered 
to me. 

After my first visit to the cemetery with my 
staff, I rode into the village, and we were trying 
some method of getting into the belfry of the court 
house, when my attention was called by Mr. D. 
A. Skelly to Fahnestock's observatory across the 

Mounting to the top, I was delighted with the open 
view. With maps and field glasses we examined the 
battlefield. Wadsworth's infantry, Buford's cavalry, 
and one or two batteries were nearest, and their fight- 
ing was manifest. Confederate prisoners were just 
then being sent to the rear in large groups from the 
Seminary Eidge down the street past my post of ob- 

We were noting the numerous roads emerging from 
Gettysburg and from our charts comparing the loca- 
tion and names, when a young soldier riding up the 
street below, stopped, and looking up, saluted me and 
said : " General Eeynolds is wounded, sir," and I re- 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

plied to him : " I am very sorry ; I hope he will be able 
to keep the field." 

It was not many minutes afterwards that an officer 
(I now believe it was Captain Hall) stood in the same 
street and, looking up, said sadly : " General Reynolds 
is dead, and you are the senior officer on the field." 
This, of course, put me in the commander's place. 

I realized the situation. We had here, deducting 
our losses, in Lee's front, not to exceed 12,000 men ; my 
corps was yet many miles back and our other troops 
were very much scattered, and the majority of them 
far away — too far for this day's work. My heart was 
heavy and the situation was grave indeed! but I did 
not hesitate, and said : " God helping us, we will stay 
here till the army comes," and quickly dictating 
orders, assumed command of the field; Schurz to take 
the Eleventh Corps ; Doubleday to hold the First, and 
the cavalry of Buford to remain with him. Rey- 
nolds's last call for help had gone through me back on 
the Emmittsburg and Taneytown roads, to Barlow, 
Schurz, and Steinwehr. The new orders were carried 
to them again by Captain Hall to Schurz and to the re- 
serve artillery under Major Osborn ; by Captain Pear- 
son to Barlow; then on to Sickles, ordering him up 
from Emmittsburg. Thence the news was borne to 
General Meade at Taneytown. A message was also 
sent to General Slocum, who was my senior. He was, 
judging from Meade's orders by this time at or near 
the two taverns. 

Under my orders Osborn's batteries were placed on 
the Cemetery Ridge and some of them covered by 
small epaulements. General Steinwehr' s division I 
put in reserve on the same heights and near the Balti- 
more pike. Dilger's Ohio battery preceded the corps, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and soon after Wheeler's, the two passing through 
the town at a trot, to take their places on the right of 
the First Corps. Schurz ordered General Schimmel- 
fennig (who had Schurz' s division now) to advance 
briskly through Gettysburg and deploy on the right 
of the First Corps in two lines. Shortly after that 
the first division, under Barlow, arrived by the Em- 
mittsburg road proper, and advanced through the town 
on the right of the third division. I rode with Barlow 
through the city, and out to what is now Barlow Hill. 

The firing at the front was severe and an occasional 
shell burst over our heads or among the houses. 
"When I think of this day, I shall always recall one in- 
cident which still cheers my heart : it was that a young 
lady, after all other persons had quite disappeared for 
safety, remained behind on her porch and waved her 
handkerchief to the soldiers as they passed. Our liv- 
ing comrades who were there will not forget this epi- 
sode, nor the greeting which her heroism awakened as 
they were going to battle. How heartily they cheered 

Leaving Barlow to complete his march and deploy- 
ment near the upper waters of Rock Creek, and send- 
ing my senior aid, Major C. H. Howard, to visit 
Buford, I rode off to the left, passing in the rear of 
Robinson, had a few words with Wadsworth, and 
stopped a short time with Doubleday farther to the 
west. Doubleday's left flank was near the Willoughby 
Run, and his artillery actively firing at the time. 

The first brilliant incidents of the engagements in 
this quarter were over, but the movements made by 
General Reynolds did not cease at his death. Meredith 
under Doubleday' s eye made a charge straight for- 
ward which resulted in the capture of a Confederate 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

brigade commander (General Archer) and several 
hundred of his men; but Cutler, farther to the right, 
was not so fortunate. A charge from Confederate 
Davis's brigade broke his line ; the One Hundred and 
Forty-seventh New York, near the railway cut, was 
badly handled and lost much ground; the Fourteenth 
Brooklyn, Ninety-fifth New York, and Hall's battery 
were cut off, and in danger of capture; the horses 
of one gun were all disabled, so that the best thing 
to do was to retire and leave that gun to the en- 
emy. Just here the corps commander (Doubleday) 
took the offensive farther to the left; using Fairchild's 
Second Wisconsin and a piece of artillery, he pressed 
them forward; then bearing to the right, they fired 
rapidly into the exposed flank of the Confederate com- 
mander Davis, who was too hotly in pursuit of Cutler's 
men to notice these flankers. Of course, Davis turned 
upon his new enemy, but Cutler's men, recovering from 
their temporary discomfiture, pushed forward into ac- 
tion. Two Confederate regiments were thus caught 
between two fires and in the railroad cut and soon sur- 
rendered with their brigade commander. 

Immediately after this movement General Eobin- 
son, of the First Corps, posted his division more 
strongly northward of Wadsworth, drawing back his 
right so as by the aid of Buford to make there a strong 
flank. It was a little after eleven o'clock and this pri- 
mary work of the First Corps was over. There was 
artillery firing and skirmishing, but just then no active 
effort by either army. The temporary repulse of Cut- 
ler and the defeat of Archer and Davis had produced 
a feeling of caution on both sides, so that there was a 
period of delay before any organized assault was 
again attempted. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

I returned to my headquarters feeling exceedingly 
anxious about the left flank. I believed, as soon as 
Lee should deploy the entire corps of Hill and sup- 
port his line by Longstreet's men, who could not be far 
behind, that Doubleday's weak left would be over- 
lapped and pressed back; so, in order to relieve the 
threatened pressure against the First Corps and at 
the same time occupy the enemy's attention, I ordered 
Schurz to push out a strong force from his front and 
seize a wooded height situated some distance north of 
Eobinson's position ; but the order had hardly left me 
when Major Howard brought me word that Early's di- 
vision of Ewell's corps was at hand ; in fact, the entire 
corps was coming in from the north and east. Reports 
from Schurz and Buford confirmed the alarming intel- 

Barlow against a shower of bullets made a strong 
effort to advance his lines, but as soon as I heard of 
the approach of Ewell and saw that nothing could pre- 
vent the turning of my right flank if Barlow ad- 
vanced, the order was countermanded, except to press 
out a skirmish line. The skirmishers on their arrival 
found the heights already occupied by Rodes's divi- 
sion of Ewell's corps. 

Our lines were much extended, and there was quite 
an interval between the Eleventh and First Corps, oc- 
cupied only by the two batteries and skirmishers 
which I have named, yet Robinson, aided by Schimmel- 
fennig (Forty-fifth New York Regiment), captured in 
that space another Confederate brigade (Iverson's). 

I sent again to General Slocum, hoping that he 
would be able to come to my relief. After a short 
time, probably within one hour after I had returned 
from Doubleday to the cemetery, a lively skirmish 


The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

arose all along the front. At 3.30 p.m. the enemy re- 
newed his attack upon the First Corps, hotly pressing 
the first and second divisions. There was a similar 
movement of Ewell's deployed lines against Schurz. 
The fighting became severe and reenforcements were 
called for. I sent from the reserve all that I dared. 
Steinwehr had then at my instance put one brigade — 
Coster's — in the edge of the town, behind barricades 
and in houses, prepared to cover the anticipated re- 
treat. At 3.45 the calls to me for help from Doubleday 
and Wadsworth were stronger than ever. Schurz was 
instructed to send one regiment to Wadsworth, as his 
front was the place at that moment of the hardest 
pressure. It was only a few minutes after this when 
the firing, growing worse and worse, showed me that 
the front lines could not hold out much longer. 

I will not attempt to describe the action further. 
It saddens me to think of the losses on that front. The 
order that I sent to Doubleday then was this : " If you 
cannot hold out longer, you must fall back to the ceme- 
tery and take position on the left of the Baltimore 

But it was not long before I was satisfied that the 
men were giving way at different points of the line, 
and that the enemy, who overreached both flanks, were 
steadily and slowly advancing. I then sent positive 
orders to Schurz and Doubleday to fall back to the 
cemetery as slowly as possible and take post — the 
Eleventh on the right and the First on the left of Bal- 
timore pike. I instructed Buford to pass to the ex- 
treme left and extend the new line, making with his 
cavalry all the show possible. 

Speaking of the retreat of the two corps Doubleday 
remarks : " I think the retreat would have been a very 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

successful one, if it had not been unfortunately the 
case that a x^ortion of the Eleventh Corps, which had 
held out very well on the extreme right, had been sur- 
rounded and fallen back at the same time that my right 
flank fell back." 

The two corps were entangled in the streets. There 
was much straggling there for a time, and doubtless 
many men leaving their ranks found their way east- 
ward along the Taneytown and Baltimore routes. 
The brigade in the front of the town, put there to help 
the retreat, lost heavily. 

When the men were reaching their new position on 
the heights, and at the time of the greatest confusion 
between 4 and 5 p.m.. General Hancock joined me near 
the Baltimore pike; he said that General Meade had 
sent him to represent him on the field. I answered as 
the bullets rent the air : " All right, Hancock, you take 
the left of the Baltimore pike and I will take the right, 
and we will put these troops in line." After a few 
friendly words between us, Hancock did as I sug- 
gested. He also took Wadsworth's division to Gulp's 
Hill and we worked together in prompt preparations 
until sundown, when, after Slocum's arrival at that 
time, Hancock returned to meet General Meade. Slo- 
cum's troops had been previously placed in the line. 

Gratified by the successes of the day, General Lee 
made but one more attempt against us that night. 
This, to turn our right in column, our well-posted bat- 
teries thwarted. As the darkness fell General Sickles, 
having at once heeded my call, had arrived from Em- 
mittsburg, and the remainder of the army, with Gen- 
eral Meade at its head, was already en route. The 
First and Eleventh Corps and General Buford's cav- 
alry did their duty nobly that first day at Gettysburg 

* 418 

The Battle of Gettysburg Begun 

— fought themselves into a good defensive position for 
the army, especially good when the whole Army of the 
Potomac had come up to occupy the Cemetery Eidge. 

General Lee, mistaking our numbers from the vigor 
of our defense, and beholding the great fortification- 
like appearance of our new stand, contented himself 
with what he had gained, and postponed further attack 
till the next day. 

When the broken regiments were emerging from 
Gettysburg upon the open ground just north of the 
cemetery, my aid. Lieutenant Rogers, was standing by 
my side, both of us dismounted; a colonel passed by 
murmuring something in German — his English was 
not at his command just then; fragments of his regi- 
ment were following him. 

Seeing the color sergeant and guard as they came 
between me and the stone wall, near the edge of the 
city, I called out : " Sergeant, plant your flag down 
there in that stone wall ! " Not recognizing me the 
sergeant said impulsively : " All right, if you will go 
with me, I will ! " Thereupon I took the flag and ac- 
companied by Rogers, the sergeant and his men, set it 
up above the wall. That flag served to rally the regi- 
ment, always brave and energetic, and other troops. 

Ames, who succeeded Barlow, formed his entire di- 
vision to the right of that regiment. After the battle 
Slocum, Sickles, and I took our headquarters on the 
ground near the gatekeeper's cottage. Mrs. Peter 
Thorn, whose husband was a soldier, with her daugh- 
ter was caring for the cottage. I had been all day from 
breakfast at sunrise without food and was nearly fam- 
ished. Mrs. Thorn, before we had time to ask, brought 
us some bread and cups of coffee. Those refresh- 
ments have never been forgotten. 




WHEN the troops that had gathered on Cemetery 
Hill went to sleep the night of Wednesday, July 
1, 1863 they anticipated that Lee would renew the at- 
tack upon them very early the next morning from the 
direction of our right, for two reasons : one that re- 
ports showed that Swell's men had been working off 
into that quarter, where they had the shelter of trees. 
And the other reason was, that we thought that greater 
immediate results to the Confederates could be ex- 
pected by promptly crushing our right flank, seizing 
Benner's, Culp's, and Cemetery hills, and so dislodg- 
ing us from our strong position embracing those hills 
and the Eound Tops. 

Now we know several reasons why General Lee did 
not do this. He had meditated that plan; in fact, he 
had given the order to attempt it, provided that Culp's 
Hill could be carried without too much cost. But, un- 
doubtedly, he was influenced by a reconnoissance of 
Ewell, who reported an assault impracticable, and by 
his finding a Union dispatch concerning Slocum's ar- 
rival, which showed not only Culp's Hill, but the 
rough-wooded ground eastward to be already com- 
pletely occupied. So that though every preparation, 
even of issuing orders to his officers, had been made 
to make our extreme right the main point of attack, 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

yet Lee, before daylight of July 2d, had completely 
changed his mind and plan. 

General Lee says : " The preparations for the 
actual attack were not completed till the afternoon of 
July 2d." 

Ewell occupied the left of his line, Hill the center, 
and Longstreet the right. The morning of July 2d, 
when Lee's attack was expected by us. Law's brigade 
of Longstreet's corps was behind at Guilford for 
picket duty; and Pickett's division was not yet up 
from Chambersburg. Longstreet, thinking his pre- 
sent force too weak for attack, determined upon wait- 
ing for Law's brigade. 

Among the preparations of the forenoon were the 
locating of the batteries. Pendleton, Lee's chief of ar- 
tillery, had worked hard during the night. Swell's 
batteries were posted, Latimer's holding the eastern- 
most height available. A. P. Hill's guns were mainly 
on Seminary Hill, within comfortable range. All this 
was already done by daylight. But General Lee now 
planned to attack our left, so that General Pendleton, 
about sunrise, was over there surveying. So close was 
he to our lines that he captured two of our armed cav- 

Somehow, Pendleton and several other officers — en- 
gineers and artillery — spent all the morning in sur- 
veying and reconnoitering. Probably the nearness of 
our troops made the work slow and embarrassing. 

Longstreet and Pendleton got together opposite 
our flank about twelve o'clock. There was now much 
sharpshooting, and at last, as the Confederate artillery 
of Longstreet was moving into its selected positions, 
a " furious cannonade " was opened from our side. 
This necessitated a quick removal of the marching col- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

umn — the artillery colunm — farther off to a better 

But, finally, about 4 p.m., Longstreet, having made 
a long march from his camp, began the battle of the 
second day in earnest. And, indeed, all this delay was 
good for us. For one, I am glad that Lee chose our 
left as his point of attack; glad that Longstreet had 
considerable marching to do before he could bring his 
excellent troops into position; glad that Pendleton 
had much trouble in surveying and spent much time 
at it, and glad also that General Hunt, our artillery 
chief, had sharp eyes and quick apprehension, and suc- 
ceeded for hours in disturbing that artillery so essen- 
tial to the enemy's success. We could better under- 
stand the situation from our side, for we had high 
points of observation and could take in the field. 
There was no shrubbery then to obstruct our view. 

At 7 P.M. the evening of July 1st I received the 
first intimation that Hancock, junior to me in rank, 
had been placed in command. When I read the writ- 
ten order of General Meade, I immediately wrote him 
asking him if he disapproved of any of my actions 
during the first day's battle. It is a little surprising 
how much historic statements differ, and often about 
the least important affairs. Take the statements of 
generals made at different places; for example, in the 
reports in the committee rooms of Congress, and in 
subsequent writings, often executed far from their 
records. Those of the same officer, as to time and 
place, often vary strangely. Others catch up these 
discrepancies and impute untruth and false intent, till 
much bad blood is stirred up. Even the time of 
Meade's arrival at the cemetery gate is a point of con- 
troversy ; one officer putting it at 1 a.m. of July 2d, an- 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

other at a later hour. I have been confident that it 
was about 3 a.m., because the time seemed so short to 
daylight. He was riding at the head of his escort. I 
met him just inside the gate. The first words he 
spoke to me were very kind. I believed that I had 
done my work well the preceding day; I desired his 
approval and so I frankly stated my earnest wish. 
Meade at once assured me that he imputed no blame; 
and I was as well satisfied as I would have been 
with positive praise from some other commanders. 
General Sickles joined us as we were talking. I told 
Meade at once what I thought of the cemetery posi- 
tion. We could have held it even if Lee had pressed 
his attack the evening before, for Slocum's division 
had come up and been placed. Sickles had heeded my 
call and was on hand with a part of his corps. He 
and Geary and Buford's cavalry together then took 
care of the left. Out batteries had been placed, and 
then the simple fact that so much help had already 
arrived gave heart to our officers and men, who had 
become discouraged in losing the Seminary Eidge. 
Therefore, I said to Meade with emphasis : " I am con- 
fident we can hold this position." 

Slocum expressed himself as equally confident : " It 
is good for defense." 

Sickles, who had been able to get a glimpse of the 
Round Tops as he marched past them, and of the ridge, 
flanked by Gulp's Hill and supported by Wolf's Hill, 
which Slocum's batteries firmly held after his arrival, 
was prepared with his opinion : 

" It is a good place to fight from, general ! " 

Meade's reply to us pleased me : " I am glad to hear 
you say so, gentlemen, for it is too late to leave it." 

There was a bright moon, so the dawn of day crept 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

upon us unawares. Before sunrise I rode with Gen- 
eral Meade along our lines toward the left. These 
lines, much extended, with long intervals, did not ap- 
pear very favorable; a sleeping army, at best, sug- 
gests weakness; the general saw the needs. He sat 
upon his horse as the sun was rising, and with his field 
glass took a survey of the Cemetery Ridge and its 
environments. We were upon the highest ground 
within the cemetery inclosure. 

The Confederate artillery was occasionally firing. 
The skirmishing at intervals was a restless, nervous 
fusillade near the town and off to the right in the 
woods. I stood at that same point of observation dur- 
ing the most exciting epoch of the great battle. I was 
there when the cornerstone of the soldier's monument 
was laid. I stood at the same center some years later 
amid a group of friends and explained some of the 
varied scenes of the conflict, and never without emo- 
tion; but the impression of that beautiful morning is 
ineffaceable. The glorious landscape, with its remark- 
able variety of aspect, in the fresh morning light, like 
a panorama was spread before our eyes. I need not 
rehearse its pictorial summary, for I hardly think 
Meade was considering the panorama at all — the 
mountains, the groves and the valleys, with their 
variety of productions, or the streams of water — 
except in their evident relationship to his military 

What he soon did, after he had ridden away slowly 
and thoughtfully, is the true key to his thought. For, 
by his direction, Slocum's entire corps went quickly to 
the right to hold the rough-wooded slopes from Culp's 
Hill to McAllister's Mill. Ames, Steinwehr, Schurz, 
Eobinson, and Doubleday, with their respective divi- 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

sions, remained substantially the same as I had located 
them on their arrival at the cemetery the day before. 
These continued their line from Gulp's Hill southward 
to near Zeigler's Grove. Hancock now brought the 
Second Corps to occupy a short front on the highest 
ground by Zeigler's Grove. Sickles gathered the Third 
Corps and tried to fill the whole space from Hancock 
to the Little Round Top. His formation, finally, was 
to push far out to the peach orchard and draw back 
his left to the Devil's Den, and then put Humphreys's 
division forward beyond the Emmittsburg road, well 
to the right. 

From Humphreys in front of Hancock's left the 
ground was occupied by Birney's division. These di- 
visions formed an angle at the peach orchard. For a 
time the Fifth Corps (Sykes in command) arriving, 
was placed in reserve ; and all the army reserve of artil- 
lery Hunt carefully placed in the angle between the 
Baltimore pike and the Taneytown road. Buford's cav- 
alry had gone to the rear for rest and to protect the 
trains, and, by some unaccountable misunderstanding, 
no cavalry whatever was in the vicinity of our left dur- 
ing July 2d. Sickles's position was questioned; it was 
outside of the natural line from Zeigler's Grove to the 
Round Tops. But, as there was no cavalry there and 
no masses of other troops to protect his left, it was a 
fortunate circumstance that Sickles had pushed out as 
he did, simply that it gained time for General Meade 
and secured Little Round Top against capture. 

I, myself, from the cemetery could not see the Con- 
federates' attack, for their objective was the rough 
and precipitous Little Round Top. It took Longstreet 
over two hours to dislodge and drive back Sickles and 
the supports Meade sent him, and caused a most dread- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 


ful general contest amid this mass of rock and stony 

As soon as the firing began in earnest, Meade rode 
near his left flank, and ordered up the Fifth Corps, 
which entered the battle, led by the vigilant Warren, 
Meade's chief engineer, and held Little Round Top to 
the end. The grand old Sixth Corps, having made its 
thirty-two miles, continuing its march through the 
night, had filed into position in our rear. It was then 
the strongest corps, well commanded and ready for 
use. Hancock's corps, too, was well concentrated and 
near at hand. As the fight waxed hotter, Meade sent 
for Slocum's two divisions, leaving only Greene's bri- 
gade, beyond Culp's Hill, to face the eastern half of 
Ewell's corps. 

Sickles, like Hood, was at last badly wounded and 
carried from the field. Then Birney took his place. 

The battle was almost over when, just before sun- 
set, a Confederate regiment crossed our line through 
an open space. Colonel Willard was killed there and 
his men were falling fast. Hancock himself led the 
First Minnesota to the exposed point, and they 
drove back the intruders. Williams's division from 
Slocum had now come to reenforce the Minnesota 

During this second day my own command played 
but a small part in the engagement, except the artillery 
of the Eleventh Corps, which was incessantly at work 
from the commencement of Lee's assault. 

During the afternoon and evening of July 2d Gen- 
eral Ewell, who had succeeded Stonewall Jackson, en- 
veloped our right with his corps, Rodes in and near 
the town, Edward Johnson opposite our right, and 
Early between the two. Ewell certainly had instruc- 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

tions to attack at the same time that Longstreet 
opened his fire opposite Little Romid Top. 

First, neither he nor his generals could distinguish 
Longstreet's firing; second, a portion of his command 
was sent off, far to his left and rear, to meet a force 
of " Yankees " reliably reported to be turning his left 
flank. Naturally he delayed a while to get back these 
troops, because, at the best — judging by natural obsta- 
cles and artificial hindrances behind which were the 
bravest of our infantry and a mighty concentration of 
artillery — he had assigned to him a task not easy to 
perform. Under these circumstances few generals 
ever succeed in getting many brigades to act simulta- 
neously, especially where the ground is exceedingly 
broken and wooded, where few of the troops can see 
each other. 

On the Confederate side, just about the time when 
the last of Slocum's column was disappearing and the 
diligent Greene was endeavoring to so extend his one 
brigade as to occupy the roughly fortified line just 
vacated, Johnson, the Confederate, was moving for- 
ward his division, astonished to meet with almost no 
opposition. Johnson went into the woods, stumbled 
over rocks and stones, forded Eock Creek, drove in 
and captured a few skirmishers and small detach- 
ments, and quietly took possession of Ruger's works ; 
but suddenly from the direction of Culp's Hill he en- 
countered a most annoying fire. 

Greene had drawn back his line, turning a little on 
his left as a pivot, until he could bring an oblique fire. 
Johnson, perceiving this danger menacing his right, 
turned and attacked Greene's front and right near the 
Culp's Hill with those two brigades nearest and imme- 
diately available. Again and again the assault was re- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

newed with a sort of angry fury and always as coolly 
repulsed. Greene's men were sheltered and lost but 
few. The Confederates piled up their dead and 
wounded to little purpose. One brigade commander 
fell among the assailants, and the other was obliged at 
last to discontinue the useless onslaught, but not until 
between nine and ten at night. 

Wadsworth had so extended his lines as to 
strengthen Greene's, giving him perhaps one regi- 
ment of his own for reserve. As soon as the attack 
commenced, Greene sent to Wadsworth for assistance, 
to which he readily responded. Afterwards, Greene 
came and thanked me for the good service done in his 
night fight by the Eighty-second Illinois, Forty-fifth 
New York, and Sixty-first Ohio, sent by me to his as- 
sistance from the Eleventh Corps. Lieutenant Colonel 
Otto, of Schurz's staff, who led this detachment, was 
also highly commended. 

I remember well when Otto promptly volunteered 
to guide these troops into position. Somehow it 
always affected me strongly to behold a hearty and 
fearless young man, after receiving an order, set forth 
without reluctance to execute it under such circum- 
stances that there were few chances of ever seeing him 
again. So I felt as Otto went forth that night into the 
gathering gloom. 

I count among the remarkable providences at 
Gettysburg the want of concert of action among the 
Confederate commanders. When Edward Johnson 
gave the command " Forward ! " it was understood 
that Jubal Early would move at the same time; yet 
it was at least an hour later before Early began his 
attack. He had waited for the return from the flank 
march of his two brigades. Yet as soon as one had 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

arrived he set his troops in niotion. Early's first and 
second brigades, having been long in position, lying 
quietly under the cover of the Cemetery Hill on its 
north side, suddenly, after a new spurt of artillery, and 
just at dusk, sprang forward to assault my corps. He 
was governing himself by the adjoining brigade of A. 
P. Hill's corps on the right. Certainly this was fort- 
unate for us, for the two large brigades that did attack 
— the one of Louisiana and the other of North Carolina 
troops — were quite enough. It was after seven o'clock 
when the first cry, shrill and ominous, was heard in 
front of Ames's division. The Louisiana men, well 
named " Louisiana Tigers," came on with a rush, broke 
through the front of Von Gilsa's brigade and other 
points of my curved front, and almost before I could 
tell where the assault was made, our men and the Con- 
federates came tumbling back together. Quickly they 
were among the intrenched batteries of Major Osborn, 
whose fire was intended strongly to support that bas- 
tioned front of the cemetery. Schurz and I were 
standing near, side by side. At my request he faced 
Colonel Krzyzanowski's brigade about, now not over 
800 men, and double-quicked them to the relief of Wie- 
derich's battery. When they arrived the battery men 
had not left their guns. Ames's men were assisting 
them with their rifles, they were wielding hand spikes, 
abandoned muskets, sponge staffs, or anything they 
could seize, to keep the enemy from dragging off 
their guns. The batteries were quickly cleared and 
promptly used, but the broken lines were not yet re- 
stored. Hancock, quick to understand — not more than 
a quarter of a mile away — " hearing a heavy engage- 
ment " on my front, and judging the firing to be com- 
ing nearer and nearer to his position, caused Gibbon 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

to detach the brigade of Colonel S. S. Carroll to my 
support. Colonel Carroll was at that time a yomig 
man of great quickness and dash. His brigade was 
already deployed in the darkness at right angles to the 
general front, and swept along northward to the right 
of Krzyzanowski, past the cemetery fence and bat- 
teries, and on, on, with marvelous rapidity, sweeping 
everything before it, till by his energetic help the en- 
tire broken front was completely reestablished. Gen- 
eral A. S. Webb, a generous and cooperative comman- 
der, also sent two of his regiments to my aid. The 
lines were thus reestablished; then, by the help of 
General Newton, who commanded the First Corps, 
I was enabled to shorten my front and have suffi- 
cient reserves to prevent the possibility of such a 
break again. 

Early made a few desperate attempts to regain 
what he had just lost. One of his brigade commanders. 
Colonel Avery, was killed, and his men were falling 
rapidly, so that he at last gave up the struggle. Every 
effort against Culp's Hill, on either flank of it, had 
come too late to be of any avail in Lee's main attack 
against the Eound Tops, and had been vigorously and 
promptly met with plenty of troops. But yet, as 
Geary, next to Greene, and Ruger, nearer McAllister's 
Mill, began to skirmish back in the night with the 
hope of resting within their strong barricade, they 
found to their surprise that these strong lines were 
held by at least two brigades of the enemy under Ed- 
ward Johnson. Takiijg up excellent positions for de- 
fense so as to bring an abundant cross fire into those 
woods and ravines east of Culp's Hill and west of Mc- 
Allister's Mill, the troops threw themselves on the 
ground for a brief rest. Meanwhile General Slocum 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

was diligently preparing, determined to regain the 
stony and log barricades, which an incident of the ter- 
rible battle of July 2d had caused him to lose. So 
ended that day's and that night's conflict. 

Thus far it was a drawn battle. We had barely 
held our own recovered ground temporarily lost at 
the center, fought desperately and prevented extreme 
disaster on the left ; but we had gone to sleep — Confed- 
erates and Union men, many in different parts of the 
same intrenchments. 

The ground was covered with the groanings and 
moanings of the wounded. While the soldiers were 
sleeping, the medical men with their ambulances, their 
lanterns, and their stretchers, aided here and there by 
a chaplain or a member of the Christian Commission, 
were going from point to point to do what little they 
could for the multitude of sufferers. Imagine, then, 
how we corps commanders felt in view of all this as we 
came together at Meade's headquarters (on the Taney- 
town road) for a brief council of war. Two questions 
were asked: First, " Shall we remain here? " Second, 
" Shall we remain on the defensive or shall we take the 
offensive? " We voted to remain and fight, but not to 
begin an attack. Lee, on his side, indicates his thought 
in the report of the campaign in his quiet way of writ- 
ing, as he says : " These partial successes determined 
me to continue the assault next day." 

It is not always the case that the characteristics of 
a young man at school or college remain the same in 
after life, but in the case of my classmate, Thomas H. 
Euger, the marked characteristics of his school days 
followed him, to be even more observable in his active 
manhood. Deliberative, cautious, and yet fearless; 
persistent, and, if unfairly pressed, obstinate to the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

last degree ; it was a good thing that a division fell to 
him at Gettysburg. 

It was a wise order given by Williams, the corps 
commander, to send Ruger back to hold the extreme 
right of Slocum's line, it being the right of our main 
line, after his troops could be of no further use in rear 
of Hancock's Second Corps. 

It must have been after nine o'clock in the night, 
when, moving along the Baltimore turnpike, Euger 
cautiously covered the left of his column by flankers or 
by skirmishers, " to ascertain if the enemy held any 
part of the breastworks, and if not, to occupy them at 
once." The breastworks held an enemy, so several of 
Ruger's skirmishers were captured. But Ruger, find- 
ing a little farther on, beyond a swale which makes into 
the Rock Creek, that a portion of his barricaded line 
which he had left in the morning had not been discov- 
ered by Johnson's men, reoccupied it at once and 
strongly posted his division so as to bring an oblique 
fire upon the sleeping enemy's stronghold. Geary by 
midnight had worked himself into a corresponding line 
near Culp's Hill, prolonging that of Greene's, where 
the early night battle had been fought. Geary faced 
so as to take the same sleeping enemy with an oblique 
fire from the other side of the swale. Ruger's and 
Geary's lines, when prolonged southward, met some- 
where beyond the Baltimore pike. Batteries were lo- 
cated on Power's Hill near that point, in the actual 
interval between the lines, so as to sweep all the ap- 
proaches; and, besides, two regiments (the Twentieth 
Connecticut and the One Hundred and Seventh New 
York) were deployed in the same interval, so that 
there should be some little direct opposition should 
the Confederate general, Edward Johnson, endeavor 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

to seize the famous turnpike, which at daylight he was 
bound to discover through the slight opening in the 
wood, the turnpike being only about 700 yards distant. 

It appears that the Union commander (in spite of 
the council of war) and the Confederate had each 
ordered an attack at daylight. Geary first opened fire 
with his artillery, continuing it for ten minutes. Then, 
Geary's troops, or a part of them, began to advance, 
when the Confederates, also taking the offensive, made 
a rapid charge along Geary's entire front, shouting as 
they came; but the Union troops cheered back defi- 
antly, fired rapidly, and yielded no ground. 

At last, with Slocum's abundant artillery at Pow- 
er's Hill and following up Geary's victorious shout- 
ing, Euger's entire division swept forward and, in 
conjunction with Geary's men, reoccupied those barri- 
cades which had by that time cost five hours of hard 
fighting and carnage which pen cannot describe. 

After returning from Meade's headquarters the 
evening before, as everything was quiet, I made my 
bed within a fenced lot of the cemetery and took this 
opportunity, after extraordinary and prolonged effort 
and want of rest, to get a good sleep, not minding a 
grave for a pillow. I heard nothing till I was startled 
by combined artillery and musketry which I have just 
described, and which appeared near at hand. The 
roaring of the cannon seemed like thunder, and the 
musketry may be compared to hail striking a flat roof, 
growing louder as the storm increases, or lessening as 
it subsides. I sent immediately to General Meade to 
inquire what the combat meant. The answer was: 
" The Twelfth Corps is regaining its lines." Five 
years afterwards I walked over that rough battlefield. 
The breastworks of logs and stones, though dilapi- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

dated, were still traceable. Trees and old stumps 
were full of holes made by rifle bullets and enlarged 
by the knives of relic seekers. Quite sizable trees 
were fully cut off, some broken and falling or shat- 
tered as with lightning bolts. Even the large rocks, 
partially covered with moss, by the thousands of dis- 
colored spots showed how they had been exposed to the 
leaden storm. It would not be strange if Slocum and 
his officers felt that the main Gettysburg battle had 
been there. 

On July 3d the time from the cessation of Slocum's 
battle to the beginning of Longstreet's last attack was 
about three hours. During this time, when Lee was 
making his best preparations for a last effort, our cav- 
alry was doing us good service on the flanks. Stuart, 
after his raid, had returned, to be sent by Lee to so 
place himself beyond our right as to do us the greatest 
possible damage in case of our defeat. But the vigi- 
lant General Gregg, with his veteran brigades, was in 
that quarter. A severe battle, involving cavalry and 
artillery, occurred well out of town and in the vicinity 
of the Bonaughton road. Judging by all accounts, it 
seems to have been a fierce duel, where both parties 
suffered greatly, losing nearly 1,000 men on each side; 
but Gregg had the satisfaction of defeating the pur- 
pose of his adversary, who was, of course, soon obliged 
to withdraw to guard the flanks of his own defeated 

On our left, where General Farnsworth fell, Kil- 
patrick's division contended — often at great disadvan- 
tage — with the different portions of Longstreet's in- 
fantry. There were only two brigades — Merritt's and 
Farnsworth' s. They seem to have been intent upon 
capturing sundry supply wagons that hove in sight, 



The Battle of Gettysburg 

when they were obliged to meet and hold in check the 
best infantry troops of the South. They were badly 
injured, with heavy losses. 

The final effort of General Lee against our left had 
two parts or periods : first, the work of his artillery ; 
second, the assault of his infantry. He chose for his 
point of attack not Little Round Top, but " the um- 
brella trees," a landmark near Zeigler's Grove, which 
was easier of approach, and he believed would give 
even better fruits to his hopes if once firmly seized and 
manned with abundant artillery. It was not easy for 
our glasses to determine the new position of Lee's 

Near the ground occupied by Sickles at the begin- 
ning of the battle of July 2d, extending along the Em- 
mittsburg road was a semicircular line of about forty 
pieces, farther south a few more, and on higher 
ground, as if in tiers, the remainder of that portion of 
Lee's artillery assigned to Longstreet, who was to at- 
tack the command. There were concentrated in this 
neighborhood at least 140 cannon. The ranges to the 
point of attack would vary from 1,000 to 2,000 yards. 

Pickett's division of three brigades was to make the 
main attack. It was formed with Kemper on the right, 
Garnett on the left, and Armistead in rear. Pickett's 
main force had in support Willcox's brigade on its 
right and Pettigrew's six brigades on its left. 

On our side. Hunt had arranged the artillery into 
four divisions: 

1. On Cemetery Heights, under shorn, having a 
large sweep of the front and right of my positions, 50 

2. Hazzard had 30 finely located close to the crest 
near Zeigler's Grove. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

3. McGilvery about 40, near Little Round Top, 
favorable for a direct or oblique fire ; and 

4. The reserve, which Hunt kept ready under shel- 
ter, for quick replacement of any which might become 

The infantry had changed place but little. 

The brigades now most exposed to direct assault 
were those of Smyth and Willard (Hays's division), 
and Webb, Hall, and Harrow (Gibbon's division). 

At last two signal guns were fired. Then, after just 
interval enough to mark well the signal, the cannonad- 
ing began in good earnest. At first the hostile fire was 
unusually accurate, neither firing too high nor too low, 
and the projectiles were showered upon the space be- 
tween Zeigler's Grove and Little Round Top about the 
center of our line. 

But as soon as Osborn set his guns in play from 
the cemetery, and McGilvery had opened up his forty 
pieces from Little Round Top, the Confederate artil- 
lerists undertook to give blow for blow, striking 
blindly toward the most troublesome points. We con- 
centrated our aim more than they. Over 200 heavy 
guns now fired as fast as men could load and fire ; they 
filled the whole region of mountain, hill, and valley 
with one continuous roar, instantly varied by sudden 
bolts at each lightning flash from the cannon's mouth, 
and by the peculiar, shrill screech of the breaking 
shells. Then the crash of destruction, the breaking of 
carriages, the killing and wounding of men — in one of 
my regiments twenty-seven fell at a single shot. Gen- 
eral Meade's headquarters were for a time in the hot- 
test place ; the house was riddled with shot, the chim- 
ney knocked in pieces, the dooryard plowed with them, 
officers and men wounded, and the many patient horses 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

killed, and, what seemed worse, others dreadfully- 
wounded. My horses and those of my staff were 
nearer the cemetery behind a projecting cliff. The 
German boy, Charley Weiss, then Colonel Balloch's 
orderly, was holding a number of them ; a fragment of 
an iron missile struck him, clipping off his left arm. 
Mrs. Sampson, caring for him, said : " Poor boy, I'm 
sorry for you ! " Weiss sprang up in bed and, lifting 
his remaining arm, said with vigor : " I'm not a poor 
boy. General Howard has lost his right arm and I my 
left. That's all there is about it ! " 

So every part of that field was visited. Men were 
killed while straightening their teams ; while carrying 
orders; on horseback; on foot, while talking, eating, or 
lying down. The lowest ground in our rear was 
quickly cleared of noncombatants, camp followers, and 
overcurious civilians. No orders were needed after 
the first bombshell exploded there. The air was so full 
of terror and death-dealing fragments that every man 
at first must have doubted if he should ever see the 
light of another day. Yet the majority in both armies 
were now well accustomed to artillery, and, shielding 
themselves by every possible cover at hand, quietly 
waited for this firing to cease. We stopped first. We 
did not want to waste ammunition, and knew what 
would follow that extraordinary cannonade. Many of 
the Confederate leaders thought that their fearful 
artillery had disabled ours and silenced the batteries. 

During this artillery duel I had been watching the 
events, sitting in front of my batteries on the slope of 
Cemetery Hill. Feeling that my greatest danger came 
from the strippings of the shells as they flew over my 
head, I had cracker boxes piled behind us — affording 
protection from our own cannon. In the lull I sud- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

denly observed beautiful lines of regiments as on 
parade emerging from the woods in rear of the enemy's 
cannon. I seemed to see a mile of frontage. The flags, 
still bright in the thinning haze of the sunlight, waved 
prettily, and looked like ours. This was Pickett's divi- 
sion and came forward at a rapid pace. Our artillery 
began with round shot and shells to make openings in 
their ranks, but they were quickly closed. Nearer, 
nearer the Confederates came ; the front was narrower 
now and the flanks traceable. It was more like a closed 
column, and bore to its left and aimed for Zeigler's 
Grove front. Hays, Gibbon, Doubleday, and their bri- 
gade commanders and all their commands, in two lines, 
were behind the slight barricades and the walls, wait- 
ing the word. Hancock was on hand, and General 
Stannard placed the Vermonters brigade among the 
trees at an angle so as to fire obliquely. Pickett's right 
flank was now plain to McGilvery; his 40 guns poured 
in their deadly shot, and suddenly the whole front of 
Hancock's line was ablaze with small arms. The Con- 
federates were mowed down like the wheat in harvest ; 
yet not all, for they did not stop. 

They advanced in the face of a " galling fire " of 
both infantry and artillery " to about 20 paces from 
our wall, when, for a few moments, they recoiled under 
a terrific fire " ; then were " rushing forward with un- 
yielding determination and an apparent spirit of 
laudable rivalry to plant the Southern banner on the 
walls of the enemy." 

The fighting over the wall became hand to hand, 
but Pickett's force was too weak. It looked for and 
"hoped for support, but hoped in vain." The end 
must come to such an imequal contest. As a sample, 
one brigade went into action with 1,427 officers and 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

men, and came off with only 300. General Garnett, 
always cool and self-possessed, was shot from his 
horse, just in front of the fatal wall. Willcox and 
Perry, with their supporting brigades, blinded doubt- 
less by the storm of shot and shell, had veered toward 
the right and Pickett had borne toward the left ; thus 
the right support was lost to the main charge. The 
support of Pettigrew and others on Pickett's left was 
more real, but in such a sudden change and quick re- 
pulse this force came up only to suffer losses with no 
substantial result. 

The heaviest blow struck Webb's brigade. Armi- 
stead reached the wall with about 100 men, but fell in- 
side mortally wounded. Beyond that wall Garnett 
and Pettigrew had already fallen. The most of that 
part of Webb's brigade posted here abandoned their 
position, but fortunately were not put to rout alto- 
gether. Webb, with a rifle in his hand broken by a 
shot and a bleeding head, rallied them to reenforce the 
rest of his brigade. Plenty of help soon came. I saw 
our own brigades quickly, in some apparent confusion, 
with flags flying, charge upon the weakened foe. The 
Confederates were everywhere beaten back; many be- 
came prisoners; many others threw away their arms 
and lay upon the ground to avoid the firing, while the 
whole front was strewn with the dead and dying. 

The last operation on the evening of July 3d was 
a sweep over the field in front of Little Bound Top by 
McCandless's brigade and some few other troops. This 
was ordered by Meade himself. By this movement the 
whole of the ground lost the previous day was retaken 
together with all our wounded, who, until then, min- 
gled with Confederates, were lying on the field un- 
cared for. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

It is sometimes said to me that writing and speak- 
ing upon the events of the war may have a deleterious 
influence upon youth. I can conceive of two reasons 
for such a warning — one, that a soldier by his en- 
thusiasm may, even unconsciously, infuse into his 
writing and speech the war spirit, and thus incite 
strong desires in younger minds for similar excite- 
ments and deeds; and, secondly, a soldier deeply af- 
fected as he must have been in our great struggle for 
national existence, may not take sufficient pains in his 
accounts of historic incidents to allay any spirit of ani- 
mosity or dissension which may still exist. 

But with regard to the first, I think there is need 
of a faithful portraiture of what we may call the after- 
battle, a panorama which shows with fidelity the fields 
covered with dead men and horses ; with the wounded, 
numerous and helpless, stretched on the ground in 
masses, each waiting his turn; the rough hospitals 
with hay and straw for bedding, saturated with blood 
and wet with the rain; houses torn into fragments; 
everj^ species of property ruthlessly demolished or de- 
stroyed — these, which we cannot well exaggerate, and 
such as these, cry out against the horrors, the hateful 
ravages, and the countless expense of war. They show 
l^lainly to our children that war, with its embodied 
woes and furies, must be avoided, except as the last 
appeal for existence, or for the rights which are more 
valuable than life itself. 

When I dwell on the scenes of July 4th and 5th at 
Gettysburg, the pictures exhibiting Meade's men and 
Lee's, though now shadowy from time, are still full of 
terrible groupings and revolting lineaments. 

There is a lively energy, an emulous activity, an ex- 
hilarating buoyancy of spirit in all the preparations 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

for an expected battle, and these feelmgs are intensi- 
fied into an increased ardor during the conflict ; but it 
is another thing to see our comrades there upon the 
ground with their darkened faces and swollen forms ; 
another thing to watch the countenances of friends and 
companions but lately in the bloom of health, now dis- 
figured, torn, and writhing in death; and not less af- 
fecting to a sensitive heart to behold the multitude of 
strangers prone and weak, pierced with wounds, or 
showing broken limbs and every sign of suppressed 
suffering, waiting for hours and hours for a relief 
which is long coming — the relief of the surgeon's knife 
or of death. 

Several years ago I wrote : " I saw just before leav- 
ing the cemetery, on July 5th, a large plat of ground 
covered with wounded Confederates, some of whom 
had been struck in the first and some in the second 
day's battle, not yet attended to. The army surgeons 
and the physicians, who now flocked to their aid by 
every incoming railroad train from the North, were 
doing their best, yet it took time and imremitting labor 
to go through the mass. The dirt and blood and pallor 
of this bruised mass of humanity affected me in a man- 
ner I can never forget, pleading pathetically for peace 
and good will toward men." 

As to the second reason, any feeling of personal re- 
sentment toward the late Confederates I would not 
counsel or cherish. Our countrymen — large numbers 
of them — combined and fought us hard for a cause. 
They failed and we succeeded; so that, in an honest 
desire for reconcilement, I would be the more care- 
ful, even in the use of terms, to convey no hatred 
or reproach for the past. Such are my real con- 
victions, and certainly the intention in all my efforts 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

is not to anger and separate, but to pacify and 

That morning (the 5th) I made a reconnoissance 
with a company of cavalry, the Eleventh Corps head- 
quarters escort. It was immediately commanded by 
Captain Sharra. Major C. H. Howard, then my senior 
aid, was to accompany me. As we were moving out 
westerly, toward the Cashtown road. Captain Grif- 
fith, of Philadelphia, another staff officer, who being 
for that time in charge of making provision for the 
headquarters mess, had ridden out to see what he 
could find. Noticing our party in motion he rode 
quickly up to me and said : " General, you are going 
toward the enemy; please allow me to accompany 

I answered : " Very well, if you desire to do so." 

The Confederates had already left the village and 
the Seminary Eidge. We passed on at a rapid pace till 
we came to a ridge fringed with trees. We saw the 
gray coats among the trees. The escort under Cap- 
tain Sharra formed in order and charged quickly to 
the crest, and I followed on with my orderlies to find 
that the men had overtaken a number of stragglers 
from the Confederates and had taken them prisoners. 
The same thing was repeated at the next ridge, only 
this time, from the grove bordering the road, Sharra 
found a well-set ambuscade. The men in waiting fired 
upon the too eager horsemen. Major Howard and 
Captain Griffith had charged with the cavalry. 

In my next letter home, written from Emmittsburg 
the next day (the 6th), I spoke of this scene and of 
Griffith : " I made a reconnoissance yesterday with 
some cavalry. We saw some men ahead that looked 
like stragglers. A dash was made by the cavalry, led 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

by Charles (Major Howard), Captain Griffith, and 
other officers. Poor Griffith was very badly wounded 
by a sudden fire from the woods and thickets ; also two 
or three of his men. We all love Griffith very much. 
He is a pure-minded, noble man ; has a wife in Philadel- 
phia. The ball went quite through him. He is at Mrs. 
Taylor's in Gettysburg, and is quite comfortable. I 
talked with him, got strong expressions of his faith in 
God through Christ ; read and prayed with him before 
leaving. I told him his wound (which afterwards 
proved fatal) was a punishment to me and not to him. 
Charles (Major Howard) is well, but we are all pretty 
well tired out. I long for rest." 

Before I left Gettysburg, with Professor Stoever, 
of the Lutheran Seminary, I paid a last visit to Cap- 
tain Griffith. I read a few verses from the fourteenth 
chapter of John. When I said, " That where I am 
there ye may be also," Griffith with his moist eyes 
looking in my face, said gently : " I am not afraid to 
die, General, and only regret to leave you and the 
dear ones at home." 

A member of the Christian Commission who was 
with Griffith until his good wife came, wrote : " I at- 
tended Captain Griffith's funeral on Wednesday (July 
8th). I could speak with confidence of his Christian 
character and hope. He died triumphantly ! " 

My brother Eowland, of the Christian Commission, 
looked up our cousin, Major S. P. Lee, of the Third 
Maine. Lee's arm was shattered and had to be ampu- 
tated at the shoulder. Lee had first served acceptably 
in the naval force, but concluded to change into the 
army, entering my old regiment as lieutenant after I 
left it by advancement. His gallantry and ability soon 
won him promotion. When found on the field the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

major was unconscious and very low. It was not be- 
lieved that he could recover. Yet by great care and 
good nursing, first by the friend I have named, and 
then by his wife, he gradually regained his health and 

So each family had its own sorrows and woundings 
after Gettysburg. Hancock, Gibbon, Webb, Butter- 
field (Meade's chief of staff), and so many others were 
wounded that commands changed hands. Meade did 
not immediately commence the pursuit, and when he 
did it was not made straight after the foe, but worked 
off to our left. My command in this moving was, part 
of the time, the Eleventh and the Fifth Corps com- 
bined. For some reason not at the time plain to me 
we were halted at Emmittsburg. Yet the halt was 
not long, for July 7th the two corps (the Fifth and the 
Eleventh) marched thirty miles to the Middletown 
Valley. The 8th, Schurz's division, was dispatched to 
Boonsboro. Thus jorepared to support Buford's cav- 
alry, which had some time before met the retreating 
Confederates and been engaged for hours. My other 
divisions guarded the mountain pass there till the ar- 
rival of other corps. I wrote the next day from 
Boonsboro (July 9, 1863) : "We are near the enemy. 
Lee has not yet crossed the Potomac and we must 
have one more trial. God grant us success in the 
next battle. He has preserved us so many times, I 
begin to feel that He might do so to the end." 

It was six miles from Funkstown, where I then was 
the evening of the 12th, when Meade brought together 
his corps commanders and counseled with them with 
respect to the position, strength, and intention of Lee, 
who was intrenched facing us with his back to the river 
at Williamsport, and with respect to the wisdom of our 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

making an attack upon him there. Meade read us 
Lee's proclamation, apparently fresh and hearty, 
wherein ostensibly he courted an opportunity for an- 
other trial of strength under more favorable circum- 
stances than those which caused him his reverse at 
Gettysburg. All regarded that proclamation as some- 
thing to keep up Confederate courage, and allowed to 
come to us for " strategic " effect. 

We had present, I think, nine corps commanders; 
six were of the opinion that we had better not assault 
Lee there. The other three, Wadsworth, Pleasonton, 
and I, pleaded for an immediate attack. Wadsworth 
had the First Corps temporarily and Pleasonton the 
cavalry corps. 

A reconnoissance ordered by me on the 13th was 
made by one of Schimmelfennig's regiments, and Kil- 
patrick's cavalry, which Pleasonton had sent to Lee's 
left flank; as soon as the cavalry skirmishers had ap- 
proached the enemy's line, he opened a brisk fire from 
infantry or dismounted cavalry. One or two pieces of 
his artillery also fired at random from a battery near 
the Williamsport road. After this reconnoissance, 
and on the information I could collect, I was impressed 
with a belief that the enemy would retreat without 
giving us battle, and it was with a hope of being able 
to make a lodgment on the enemy's left that I asked 
permission to make a reconnoissance at 3 a.m. of the 
next day (the 14th). Subsequently the commanding 
general's order for several simultaneous reconnois- 
sances at 7 a.m. reached me. I also received word, in 
answer to my request, that orders had already been 
sent out, which would probably effect the purpose I 
proposed. But it happened that 7 a.m. was too late. 

In a letter of July 14th, dated at Funkstown, Md., 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

where we had abutted against Lee's intrenched posi- 
tion till he effected a crossing by the deep ford and by 
a hastily constructed rickety bridge of boats, I wrote 
just after the works were emptied of his troops : " The 
enemy has got away from us again and gone back to 
the Potomac, having left a strongly fortified position. 
We do not know yet whether the Confederates have all 
crossed. . . . Senator Wilson and Vice-President Ham- 
lin visited us while here." 

I remember meeting them in the belfry of a large 
church on July 13th, in Funkstown, from which we 
could see what appeared to be Lee's extreme left flank. 
The letter further says : " Captain Harry M. Stinson — 
good, true, and faithful and brave as ever — has just re- 
ported that he had been in the enemy's evacuated 
works." We hastened on that morning, after we found 
Lee's lines empty, to Williamsport. 

En route I reproached an elderly, gray-haired 
Pennsylvania volunteer, belonging to a regiment of a 
very high number, for leaving his regiment and strag- 
gling. He said that he didn't think that officers who 
could let Lee escape that way should say much. In 
heart I then rather sympathized with his growl. He 
further remarked that we who rode on horses had a 
good deal to say. I asked him if he wanted to ride. 
He said that he would not object to that. I dismounted 
from my horse, which, by the aid of an orderly, the 
complaining soldier mounted, not removing his full 
equipments. It was not long before he found out 
where he was, and becoming very weary with trying 
to keep his seat, he begged to be allowed to walk and 
join his regiment. This was granted. 

At the river the inhabitants told us that part of 
Lee's command had crossed the Potomac at Falling 


The Battle of Gettysburg 

Waters on a new bridge of boats; a part on flatboats 
at Williamsport, and more at a deep ford a little above 
that place; that many horses and men were drowned 
while fording the river. 

The loss of Meade's army at Gettysburg is set down 
at 23,186, made up as follows: 2,834 killed, 13,709 
wounded, and 6,643 missing. According to the hos- 
pital record we had 7,262 wounded prisoners and 13,- 
621 aggregate. I have been under the impression that 
Meade, who always had strong objections to overstate, 
has left an underestimate of the actual number of 
prisoners taken. General Lee's killed were over 5,500. 
The number that escaped as stragglers, as slightly ill, 
or having light wounds— many of whom went back to 
Virginia or farther south— is reckoned as about 10,000. 
Taking these figures, the aggregate loss of General Lee 
caused by the battle of Gettysburg is 29,121 from all 

If we put the two sums together, 23,186 and 29,121, 
we have 52,307 hors de combat. Aggregating the 
wounded, we have 20,971 men to be cared for— a large 
number even for our active and efficient hospital de- 
partment. More than 20,000 men, a strong army corps 
in itself ! 

(For notice of General Stannard see Appendix.) 





I CONTINUED with the Army of the Potomac till 
General Meade had not only recrossed the Potomac 
and marched back southward, following up, by the in- 
side lines, the retreat of the Confederates, but till 
Meade had crossed the Rappahannock also, established 
his headquarters at Culpeper Court House, Virginia, 
and put his forces into good positions for watching 
every point of the compass. The Eleventh Corps, 
which I then commanded, spread itself out north of the 
Rappahannock, in fan-shaped order, facing the rear, 
with its center near Catlett's, a station on the Orange 
& Alexandria Railroad. My tents were pitched on Mr. 
Catlett's farm ; and we were suffered to remain so long 
in one place that we became quite domesticated. By 
the letters which I have preserved I recall the fact that 
the officers of my staff and myself had much sympathy 
and friendship with Mr. Catlett's family. They re- 
mained at home in a neighborhood quite overrun by 
both armies and one already very destitute of comforts 
and quite barren of vegetation. Writing from this 
camp to my child, I said : " Little Lottie Catlett, who 
looks something like yourself, gave me a good, hearty 
welcome when I returned, and showed me her nice, new 
doll. . . . One time she understood somebody to say that 
I had been killed, and she cried very heartily." The 
monotony of camp life had many reliefs this hot sea- 


Major General Howard. 
(From a photograph taken after the battle of Gettysburg.) 

I Transferred to the West 

sou. At one time a German chaplain preached, and 
the Thirty-third Massachusetts baud came to the ser- 
vice and played the hymns. The band remained at 
Catlett's over Monday, and we all had a delightful mu- 
sical treat. At another time, Saturday, September 4, 
1863, returning from Manassas Junction, where I had 
been to review troops, I found Meade, Humphreys, and 
Pleasonton at my headquarters. 

Meade took dinner with me under our fly; he ad- 
mired the ability of our cook in making strange devices 
upon an admirable cake. Our German cook's ability 
exceeded anything found in cities. 

At another time, in the same month, my staff rode 
with me to the village of Greenwich, where I had one 
regiment. The principal citizen was Mr. Green. He 
appeared heartily glad to see us. His premises af- 
forded an exception to the prevailing desolation. They 
were, indeed, in fine condition. He extended to us cor- 
dial and abundant hospitality. With fervor and sim- 
plicity he asked God's blessing. His neighbors spoke 
of his charities. His character much impressed me. 
He was an Englishman, and " British property " was 
inscribed in plain letters on his gate posts. There 
were large stacks of good hay untouched, and good- 
sized beehives full of honey ! War had spared nobody 
else in that region. 

At that time, too, as to many others around me, 
there came news of illness at home. 

While we were, in the midst of such surroundings 
and circumstances, which were making up the woof 
and web of our daily life, with little apparent prospect 
of change, on September 24th, without previous inti- 
mation, the following orders suddenly made their ap- 
pearance at my headquarters : 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

" The commanding general directs that you have your 
command (Eleventh Corps) in readiness to proceed to Wash- 
ington to-morrow morning by railroad. 

" You will at once notify Mr. J. H. Devereux, superintend- 
ent of the railroad, Alexandria, at what points you desire to 
have the trains take up your troops, and the number at each 

" Your command must have five days' cooked rations. You 
will not wait to be relieved by other troops, but proceed to 
Washington the moment the trains are ready to take your 
command. Please acknowledge. 

" By command of Major General Meade. 

"S. Williams, Asst. Adj't Gen." 

General Slocuni, commanding the Twelfth Corps, 
had received substantially the same orders. These 
two corps were placed upon trains of cars and put 
under the command of General Joseph Hooker, for it 
had been resolved to recall General Hooker from his 
retirement to which General Halleck's influence had 
consigned him the preceding June 28th. These two 
corps were intended as reenforcements to the Army 
of the Cumberland at that time still under General 

The battle of Chickamauga had been fought, end- 
ing September 21, 1863. The place of this hardly con- 
tested field was in Tennessee, east of Lookout Moun- 
tain, and several miles south of Chattanooga. It had 
resulted, notwithstanding our heavy losses and partial 
defeats, in a substantial success; for Eosecrans had 
gained that strong place of arms, Chattanooga, and 
thus firmly seized the left bank of the Tennessee. By 
the date of our orders, September 24th, he had ren- 
dered his position stronger by his forts and intrench- 
ments. There was little present danger of losing this 


Transferred to the West 

important advantage by assault or by battle; but 
Bragg had seized the mountains which hemmed in 
Chattanooga, the range above (that is, Missionary 
Ridge) and the ranges below (Lookout and Raccoon), 
and by his cannon and his outposts so controlled the 
Tennessee River above and below, that there should 
be no communication with Chattanooga by the usual 
routes on the same side with the town. 

Rosecrans's wagons with supplies came up the con- 
vex road on the opposite bank. When they used the 
river road there, the route was bad enough, being over 
forty miles in length from the Nashville & Bridgeport 
Railroad to the pontoon bridge which led into Chatta- 
nooga. Soon even this rugged way was shut up by 
the boldness of the enemy's sharpshooters posted on 
the south bank of the river and firing across the nar- 
rower stretches. 

After a longer and safer road had been selected, 
the supply trains were " raided upon " by guerrilla 
bands and by smaller bodies of the enemy's cavalry, 
which at the time ranged wildly through that portion 
of Tennessee. Soon the question of supplies became a 
serious one, so it was necessary either to strengthen 
Rosecrans's hands, so that he could clear himself from 
a partial siege, or withdraw his army and so lose ad- 
vantage of a position which had been secured at a 
costly sacrifice. 

It was, therefore, determined to detach us from 
Meade and make a transfer to Rosecrans. The two 
corps (the Eleventh and Twelfth) quickly started up 
from their scattered camps in regiments, loaded up 
their tents and luggage, and marched to the nearest 
railway station. We, fortunately for our subsequent 
comfort, were to leave our army wagons behind as 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

soon as they had been unloaded at the cars. Our artil- 
lery and horses went with us. Instead of having a 
single long train, Mr. Devereux furnished us with sev- 
eral short ones. As soon as the first one was loaded to 
its full with our material, animals, and men, it moved 
off, to be followed by the second, filled in like manner. 
As several stations were used at the same time, it did 
not take long, with our multitude of helpers, to embark 
everything which was allowed. 

At first our destination was a secret to everybody. 
By Halleck's instructions I went to Washington and 
reported to Hooker. I found him at Willard's Hotel. 
He at once informed me that my corps and Slocum's 
were to move by rail to the west and join Eosecrans 
as soon as it could be done. I remember, years after- 
wards, just after the completion of the Northern Pa- 
cific, I waited a day and a night for a train at the junc- 
tion of the Utah Northern with that railroad. Mr. 
Henry Villard, the president of the road, and his 
guests from Europe and from the Eastern States were 
returning from the occasion of the driving of the 
" golden spike." It was making a trial trip. Train 
after train whizzed past my station, keeping regular 
intervals apart. These had the road all to themselves. 
They reminded me forcibly of our manner of moving 
troops during the war. However, we never went as 
Villard did, at forty or fifty miles an hour. We did 
well to average fifteen. 

After an interview with my commanders I paid a 
visit to the President. It was during that visit that 
Mr. .Lincoln pulled down his map from the wall and, 
putting his finger on Cumberland Gap, asked : " Gen- 
eral, can't you go through here and seize Knoxville I " 
Speaking of the mountaineers of that region he de- 


Transferred to the West 

clared : " They are loyal there, they are loyal ! " Then 
he gave me his mounted map, better for campaigning, 
and took my immomited one, saying : " Yours will do 
for me." In answer to the President's question I re- 
plied : " We must work in with Grant's plans, as he has 
three armies, the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the 
Ohio." And that is what Mr. Lincoln actually did. 

With my headquarters I took the rearmost train. 
Many men mounted, from choice, on the tops of the 
freight cars. It gave them better air to do so, but it 
was dangerous at the bridges and in passing through 
the tunnels. A few men were swept off and hurt. 
When times of excitement, like the present, came on, 
some of our men developed an extraordinary desire 
for whisky, and citizens were never wanting who 
would be prepared, at any station, to press a bottle into 
their pockets. This increased the danger to life. 
After several fatal falls were reported, I succeeded in 
effecting, by telegraph, an arrangement with the town 
authorities where we were to stop, even for a few min- 
utes, so that the liquor shops were closed during the 
passage of the trains. When we caught an eager 
vender, selling bottles secretly in spite of all precau- 
tions, we found it a good policy to give him a free ride 
for some distance, and then permit him to walk back. 

All the way along through Indiana and Ohio we 
received an enthusiastic welcome. Multitudes — ^men, 
women, and children — filled the streets of the towns as 
we passed and gave us refreshments and hearty words 
and other demonstrations of their appreciation. At 
Xenia, for example, little girls, gayly attired, came in 
flocks and handed up bouquets of flowers to the sol- 
diers ; the children and the ladies, too, were the bearers 
of little housekeeper bags, needlebooks, and bright 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

flags, each bringiag some small thmg for use. Nothing 
ever inspirited our men more. True, these lovely faces 
and these demonstrations were reminders of home ; but 
with our soldiers generally such reminders did not de- 
press and cause desertion, but awakened them to fresh 
energy and exertion to struggle on, and to preserve to 
their children an unbroken heritage. 

Among our people, anywhere from Maine to Cali- 
fornia, during the great war, when the Nation's life 
was the issue, we encountered every variety of opinion. 
There were those who were able to turn everything 
into money, and who were, at the same time, always 
unfriendly to President Lincoln and his administra- 
tion. There were others, not worse, but more blatant 
in their opposition. We heard from these in every 
crowd; they called us cutthroats, Lincoln hirelings, 
nigger savers, or by some other characteristic epithets. 
Our loyal soldiers denominated them " copperheads," 
and when there was opportunity for a more forceful 
rejoinder it was quick to come. 

During this trip, however, the loyal feeling, sym- 
pathy, and kind words prevailed. At Dayton, Ohio, all 
discordant voices were drowned quickly by the vast 
multitudes who came together and shouted their 
approval. At last, these warm greetings, mingled 
with tears from those who were mourning for losses 
already suffered; these presentations of flowers and 
useful articles; these upturned faces and extended 
hands were all passed by. We came again to the Ohio, 
opposite Louisville, Ky. 

For some reason, perhaps to save the soldiers from 
several hours of hard work, our quartermasters and 
railroad officials decided to move the horses, artillery, 
the camp and garrison equipage, and all other luggage 


Transferred to the West 

entirely independent of the help of the soldiers or their 
officers. Everything was then taken over the river in 
small transports and put upon freight cars which were 
in waiting. The provision was a mistake. It took 
much longer to do the work, and too often this moving 
was as destructive as fire. Such confusion as resulted 
I will not undertake to describe. Tents, bedding, cloth- 
ing, mess kits belonging to one regiment or battery 
were thrown together or badly mixed with those of 
another. There was little separation even between the 
corps, division, and brigade property; so that one can 
imagine the difficulty of unraveling this wretched en- 
tanglement when we reached our journey's end. 

It taught every officer who was on those trains to 
see to it in the future that each organization kept the 
management of its own material to itself. Let the 
helpers help, but not control, particularly in such hur- 
ried transfers. 

On October 1, 1863, I wrote a letter from the Gait 
House. My infantry was then ahead, and part of my 
artillery. I had sent back my aid-de-camp (Major 
Howard) as far as Eichmond, Ind., which I pronounced 
a " gem of a place." He was to bring up some strag- 
glers. I spoke of the move in this way : " I feel that I 
am sent out here for some wise and good purpose. I be- 
lieve my corps will be better appreciated. Already the 
good conduct of the soldiers excites wonder. "We shall 
go straight on to Chattanooga. God grant us success 
and a speedy close to the war ! " It was the prayer on 
many lips. 

After passing over the Ohio we were upon the soil 
of Kentucky — upon that soil which I had at the out- 
break been forbidden by a Kentuckian to touch or 
cross. But here the battles pro and con had been 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

fought. Both armies, Northern and Southern, had 
swept the State. Her citizens, divided, had given their 
allegiance to the South or to the Government; many 
hoping vainly to preserve neutrality. Much of this 
land of superb fertility had become waste and barren, 
like the battle grounds of Virginia. We thought of 
Buell and Bragg, of George H. Thomas and Van Dorn, 
and of other opposing leaders, as we coursed along 
through this border State. Crowds of welcoming citi- 
zens were not at the stations. War had become a deso- 
lating curse and terror. For each family the question 
of existence was uppermost. How shall we live? How 
can we provide for our own? And, thanks to the 
armies of the Tennessee and the Cumberland, we could 
easily go beyond Kentucky and her proud Bowling 
Green. For Stone Eiver had been fought, and Rose- 
crans had chased Bragg beyond the Tennessee. So we 
went peacefully, train after train, through Nashville, 
Murfreesboro, Wartrace, Tullahoma, Decherd, the 
tunnel, and Stevenson (Ala.), 120 miles to the south- 
east, till we intersected the Memphis & Charleston 
Railroad. We there turned to the east, and steamed 
away ten or twelve miles farther, till we stopped at a 
burned bridge — the bridge that once spanned the Ten- 
nessee — which Confederate necessities had caused to 
be destroyed. This point, with its hamlet, was Bridge- 
port, Ala. The railroad, which crosses at the bridge, 
keeps up the Tennessee Valley on the other side, with- 
out following the curvature of the river, and makes its 
way through gaps in the mountain ridges and across 
deep canyons, and, touching the Lookout range at its 
base and close to the water of the Tennessee, passes 
into the Chattanooga basin. From Bridgeport to 
Chattanooga the distance by this railroad route is but 


Transferred to the West 

twenty-eight miles. On the evening of October 3d, at 
9 P.M., my train arrived at Stevenson, a poor town with 
some half dozen miserable houses. Here we found an 
accumulation of supplies for Eosecrans's army. He 
was then obliged to transport everything by wagons 
from that point by roads north of the Tennessee Eiver 
to Chattanooga. The next morning, October 4th, we 
passed on to Bridgeport, where the greater portion of 
the Eleventh Corps had already arrived and biv- 
ouacked as well as it could without wagons and with 
its mixed-up baggage. The artillery was there, but the 
horses had not yet arrived. It was a singularly rough 
country — nothing but abrupt hills and moimtains, 
nothing except the broad river-and the crooked rail- 
way! Though early in October, the air was very 
chilly ; and the old camps left by the Confederates as 
they withdrew to the south shore were, as old camps 
mostly are, very uninviting. 

We found left by Rosecrans's army a small guard 
over a subdepot, a few workmen laboring to build a 
little steamer (which there was a faint hope might 
some time be used to take bread to our half -famished 
comrades at the front), an old broken-down mill, and 
some quartermaster's shanties. This was about all. 
At first everybody was homesick. The feeling was not 
diminished when the next day we heard of a Confeder- 
ate cavalry raid in our rear. Major Howard, who was 
now coming forward, was detained by it at Nashville. 
On October 8th he noted : " The Confederate cavalry 
has destroyed several bridges below here, and I could 
not go on to join the corps and the General, who had al- 
ready reached Bridgeport, on the Tennessee River, his 
destination for the present. I found Colonel Asmus- 
sen, chief of staff, and other officers here. Some of our 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

freight and artillery horses had not yet passed this 
place. The rear of the corps is all at Nashville now, 
and we will march by land next Saturday morning, in 
order that the railroad, as soon as open, may be free 
for supplies." 

Colonel Asmussen — a most energetic worker — ^had, 
after many troublesome delays, secured the wagons 
and artillery horses at Nashville, and was coming on. 
We had with us ten days' rations for the men, but my 
poor friends at headquarters were obliged, as Major 
Howard wrote, " to go a-begging for their food," be- 
cause the headquarters-mess furniture had all been 
kept back at Nashville in consequence of the brilliant 
conduct of the inhospitable raiders. General Slocum, 
too, was still at Nashville, and his command stopped 
en route and repaired the breakages along the railway. 

By these recitals one may form some idea of the 
anxieties of the commanders in those times. Was it 
wonderful that General Sherman estimated that 200,- 
000 men would not be too many to hold this long line 
in safety and still enable us to go forward and con- 
quer the hostile army which was beyond? 

I saw General Hooker after he had received his in- 
structions from Grant to cross over the Tennessee at 
Bridgeport and march to form a junction with General 
Hazen, who was the officer selected by General Thomas 
to come out from Chattanooga, seize the foot of Look- 
out Valley, lay a pontoon bridge over the Tennessee, 
and defend it until our arrival. I never saw Hooker 
apparently so apprehensive of disaster. He said: 
" Why, Howard, Longstreet is up on that Lookout 
range with at least 10,000 fighting men. We will be 
obliged to make a flank march along the side and base 
of the mountain. I shall have scarcely so many men, 


Transferred to the West 

and must take care of my trains. It is a very hazard- 
ous operation, and almost certain to procure us a 

I did not share Hooker's apprehensions at that 
time, for I believed that the cooperating forces, both at 
Brown's Ferry and the remainder of Thomas's army 
beyond Lookout Mountain, would be on the watch ; that 
if any considerable force of the enemy came against 
us, he would thus hopelessly divide his army. But a 
few days later, after a nearer survey of the country 
around Chattanooga, I saw that Hooker had good rea- 
sons for his surmises ; for Lookout was like the Gre- 
cian Acropolis at Athens — a place for the most ex- 
tended observations, quite unassailable if defended 
by a few men well posted, and fine grounds for 
well-chosen sorties. Neither Brown's Ferry nor Chat- 
tanooga could have struck a blow up there. In all this 
region the hills and mountains are very high, and the 
valleys are comparatively narrow. The smaller force 
in the valley was, therefore, always at a great disad- 

The early morning of October 27, 1863, found my 
command full of exhilaration and in rapid motion. 
We already knew the country pretty well, for we had 
held a grand guard at Shell Mound, six miles out on 
the main Bridgeport & Chattanooga Eailroad, and had 
scouted the country to the front and the right much 
farther. No matter what the danger may be, the men 
in marching always brighten up and appear happy 
after remaining for considerable time in a disagree- 
able camp. The chills and the fevers had begun to 
worry our men not a little, particularly the bridge 
guards which had been on the south side of the Ten- 
nessee. Many poor fellows who became sallow and 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

shivering in the low grounds, where they were forced 
to camp, will remember with gratitude the inde- 
fatigable surgeon, Dr. Sparling, sometimes called 
the Charley O'Mally of the Army of the Cumber- 
land, who lived with them in the low ground and 
cheered them by his jolly stories as well as by his 

The forward movement was caused by a visit of 
General U. S. Grant, then commanding the military 
division. One day I was at Stevenson and, while at 
the railroad station, the Nashville train brought 
Grant, Rawlins, and one or two more of his staff. On 
his car I was introduced to him. He gave me his hand 
and said pleasantly: "I am glad to see you, General." 
Then I had to do the talking. In a few minutes a staff 
officer from Hooker came in and offered Grant a car- 
riage to take him to Hooker's headquarters, a quarter 
of a mile distant — extending also an invitation to the 
general to stay and partake of Hooker's hospitality. 
Grant replied : " If General Hooker wishes to see me 
he will find me on this train ! " The answer and the 
manner of it surprised me ; but it was Grant's way of 
maintaining his ascendency where a subordinate was 
likely to question it. Hooker soon entered the car and 
paid his respects in person. Grant that day went on 
with me to Bridgeport and stayed with me in my tent 
overnight. It was there he said to me : " If I should 
seek a command higher than that intrusted to me by 
my Government I should be flying in the face of Provi- 
dence." Grant was very lame then, suffering from a 
fall of his horse. The next day at sunrise Rawlins 
lifted him into his saddle. Then with a small escort 
Grant rode off by the most dangerous route via Jasper 
and along the shore of the Tennessee to Chattanooga. 


Transferred to the West 

By this journey he set in motion the entire fall cam- 
paign against Bragg. 

At last we were escapmg from this dangerous soil; 
from the old camps of the Confederates; from guard- 
ing long lines of railway; from the work in mud and 
water to corduroy the roads and lay the bridges. Just 
what was before us nobody knew. It was at least a 

My two divisions took the lead. Ahead of my in- 
fantry skirmishers I sent out cavalrymen. I had but 
few horsemen— only two companies at that time. The 
policy prevailed of organizing as many regiments as 
possible from each State which had attempted seces- 
sion, when we came near them, particularly in the 
West; so we had in the army our First Alabama Cav- 
alry and our First Tennessee. These regiments af- 
forded an asylum to " loyal refugees." In Tennessee 
the people at home who were full of sympathy for the 
rebellion were called " Southern men," while in re- 
taliation the others were usually denommated " rene- 
gades," or designated by worse names. 

From them I obtained two companies, one from 
each, and it was these who cleared, as well as a few 
men could, my front and right flank; the near river 
sufficiently covered my left. General J. W. Geary was 
in charge of the division of the Twelfth Corps, which 
was to follow mine. Slocum had sought and obtained 
a command on the Mississippi; therefore, before this 
he had left Hooker's command. The remainder of the 
Twelfth Corps besides Geary's division, in conjunction 
with some other troops, were to take care of our long 
line of communications. We made that first day a 
comfortable march— for it is not wise the first day out 
of camp to press the men too hard— and met no oppo- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

sition. "VVe were early at Whiteside's, having marched 
about fifteen or sixteen miles. One can hardly im- 
agine a rougher country. There were the steepest 
mountains, abrupt and rocky heights, and narrow can- 
yonlike defiles. We found mines of coal at the sum- 
mits of high peaks. They were worked with queer 
tramways and cars so arranged by ropes and machin- 
ery as to let down the coal hundreds of feet. The rail- 
way bridge had been supported by wooden frames, 
built like high scaffolding, story by story. This bridge 
was nearly destroyed. We found at the old White- 
side's Station one poor family consisting of a woman 
and several children. I then wrote in my notes, refer- 
ring to this family and others in that mountain region : 
" How poor and how ignorant all the people are." 
The poverty and the squalor was pitiable. The actual 
cause of the war was not known among them. They 
were made a prey to any unbelievable tale which made 
its way to the coal mines. One said to me that he had 
heard that a battle had been fought among the con- 
gressmen in the Capitol at Washington, and that the 
great war had come from that. There was one aban- 
doned house which presented a respectable appear- 
ance ; it had two fair-sized rooms. We had the rooms 
swept and fires lighted in the large, open chimney 
places and then headquarters moved in to enjoy a 
reasonably comfortable night. Before taking posi- 
tions for the ordinary guards and outposts we encoun- 
tered and chased off some of the enemy's cavalry 
which approached too closely and gave us annoyance. 
To add a little to our store of information we had cap- 
tured two cavalrymen, who were held as prisoners. 
My inspector general, Colonel Asmussen, probed them 
with questions. By their reluctant accounts the posi- 


Transferred to the West 

tion and strength of the enemy was made more clear. 
The next morning, October 28th, the command was on 
hand in good time. At daylight we pulled out of camp 
and marched in the same order as the day before. As- 
cending toward Eaccoon Divide we soon came upon 
the Confederate cavalry pickets, who fled before our 
advance. In the excitement of a slight skirmish and 
quick movement of the leading troops the ascent was 
soon made to the highest ground between Whiteside's 
and the Lookout Valley. The troops becoming some- 
what scattered, a halt was called until my division was 
closed up. During this halt the enemy's watching 
forces prepared an ambush for us. They seized and 
occupied a wooded spur of Lookout Mountain, around 
the foot of which our roadway wound. 

It was, perhaps, one mile south of the Wauhatchie 
depot. Suddenly, as our skirmish line began to feel 
its way along over the rough ground among the rocks 
and trees, there came a few rifle shots, and then in a 
few minutes a brisker fire. I was obliged to send for- 
ward an entire regiment before these persistent shoot- 
ers could be induced to stop their fighting and fall 
back. We had in this affair one poor fellow killed and 
a few wounded. The Confederates then fled down 
Lookout Valley, and our advanced men, now full of ex- 
citement, like hunters in the chase, followed their trail 
as fast as their feet could carry them. But, as my 
main column shortly after emerged from the thicket 
and was marching along in the valley, with the lofty 
range of Lookout on its right, there was, as if we 
needed it, a new source of inspiration. From the crest 
of the high mountain Longstreet and his men were 
taking a good view of us. Just above the perpendicu- 
lar rocks which crown the highest part of the range, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

we could discover the Confederate signal officer waving 
and dipping his small ensign of Stars and Bars in a 
most lively manner, and then we saw a flash and a vol- 
ume of smoke, which was soon followed by a double 
explosion. This at once revealed to us the position of 
the hostile cannon. 

The cannonading began about the time we passed 
that intersecting road which led south from Brown's 
Ferry road to a landing on the Tennessee; the firing 
continued while we were making about two miles more 
of our march. My column at that time, with the best 
closing up which could be effected in that rocky coun- 
try, must have been at least six miles in extent. This 
included my usual ammunition and baggage train. 
The Confederate gunners, therefore, had a lengthy ar- 
tillery practice. They found it difficult to sufficiently 
depress their cannon to touch our position. At first 
the screaming shells went far beyond us. Owing to 
the echoes and reverberations caused by the moun- 
tains, the resounding of the artillery was remarkable. 
Some missiles fell short, but a few came near enough 
to make our men long for shelter, and to cause them to 
hasten their steps in order to gain a safer distance. 
Under this spectacular and noisy cannonade another 
man was killed and another wounded. 

Being ignorant of the country, we were startled to 
see a considerable force crowning some round hills 
which suddenly rose up in our pathway. Field glasses 
were in demand. We could see bright flags — red, 
white, and blue. The Confederates had in colors the 
same as we. We could catch the bright gleam of gun 
barrels and bayonets. But while preparing to ap- 
proach with great care, to be ready for war or peace, 
as the case should resolve itself, we heard a welcome 


Transferred to the West 

sound; it was just like our own sturdy shout; it was 
Hazen's men who, excited by the cannonading, had left 
their brigade camp and had come out to meet us. As 
we neared them and could catch their accents, we took 
in the memorable words : " Hurrah ! hurrah ! you have 
opened up our bread line!" It was a glad meeting; 
glad for us, who felt that we had accomplished the dif- 
ficult march; glad for them, who had for some time 
been growing thin on supplies ; for at times they were 
living only on parched corn, and not enough of that. 
It is always hard for a soldier or sailor in active ser- 
vice, who is put on half rations and is forced to resist 
hunger by shortening his waist belt, to continue this 
weakening operation too long. The slow starvation of 
a siege is properly more dreaded by them than the ex- 
posure in campaign and in battle. 

After a few moments of kindly interchange and 
greeting of those who came together, Hazen's men and 
mine resumed their ranks. The former returned to 
their positions, and my command, resting its right at 
the foothills of Eaccoon Eange and in echelon with 
Hazen, faced toward Lookout Mountain and went into 
camp for the night. General Hooker, who had come on 
with Geary's division, joined me and established his 
headquarters near at hand. 

Geary, who had in charge a long train of wagons, 
was instructed to stop back at Wauhatchie, three miles 
at least from my camp. As he had but little more than 
one division of the Twelfth Corps, it was for him a haz- 
ardous thing to do. General Hooker deemed this nec- 
essary to the holding of Lookout Valley, and he 
further desired to cut off and catch a small force which 
Bragg had been keeping on the Tennessee River. 
Those were the hostiles who had been so enterprising 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and annoying as to break up our roadway on the oppo- 
site shore. The Wauhatchie crossroad was the only 
practicable pathway for their exit from that place, 
usually called Kelly's Landing. The Tennessee must 
be clear from Confederates, for Thomas's little 
steamer — the Chattanooga — was at last finished, 
loaded with hard bread, and already slowly winding 
its way up the river to supplement our venturesome 

Still, important as Wauhatchie undoubtedly was, 
it was like throwing bait without hook and line before 
a hungry fish, to have a large train of wagons parked 
there, defended by so small a force as a division, in 
plain view of Longstreet and his observing army. For 
he could dart upon the bait, swallow it, and make off 
to his sheltered nook without much danger to himself. 
Longstreet had quickly apprehended the situation 
and sent a force, as soon as it was dark enough to con- 
ceal its movements, to descend from his stronghold, 
pass westward along the Chattanooga wagon road, 
cross Lookout Creek, so as to secure a quick retreat in 
case of any miscarriage or to hold back the Eleventh 
Corps and Hazen, should we attempt a flank march 
along that front to succor Geary. All this was done. 
The low hills were manned and to some extent barri- 
caded, for there were plenty of rocks and trees cover- 
ing them. A Confederate division was then dis- 
patched to attack Geary. 

Some time after midnight, when our weary men 
were in their soundest sleep, undisturbed by the 
friendly moon, which was shining brightly that night, 
and free from apprehensions — for our march had been 
completed and we had a good, strong position — of a 
sudden the extreme stillness was broken by the roar 


Transferred to the West 

of cannon and the rattle of musketry. Everybody who 
was fully awake said at once : " Our men at Wau- 
hatchie are attacked." Instantly I sent to my division 
commanders (Schurz and Steinwehr) to put their 
troops under arms. The word of command had hardly 
left me when Hooker's anxious message came : " Hurry 
or you cannot save Geary. He has been attacked ! " 

The troops were quickly on foot. Schurz's men 
were that night especially alert and the first under 
arms. The road ran along at the base of the low hills 
which I have described, and which the Confederates 
were already quietly holding. Schurz was ordered to 
go on to Geary's relief, but he had hardly set out over 
the rocks and through the thickets, feeling his way to 
the west and north of the wagon road in the uncertain 
light, probably not very clear in his own mind just how 
to get to that heavy and continuous firing, when a 
skirmish fire began, coming upon his advance troops 
from those low hills which skirted Lookout Creek. 

Just at that time I joined Hooker, who was sitting 
with Butterfield, his chief of staff, on the side of a 
knoll, where a fire had been started ; for the night was 
cold. He was evidently disturbed, but not impatient. 
He thought my command was not pressing on fast 
enough, but agreed with me that the first thing to do 
was to clear those low hills along Lookout Creek. 
Steinwehr was coming up rapidly along the road. He 
designated Colonel Orland Smith's brigade for this 
work for his division. A little farther on, Schurz sent 
General Tyndall's brigade to carry the hills on his left. 

As soon as these primary arrangements were ef- 
fected, I said to General Hooker: "With your ap- 
proval, I will take the two companies of cavalry and 
push through to Wauhatchie." 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

The general answered : " All right, Howard ; I shall 
be here to attend to this part of the field." 

Then immediately, with my small squadron, I set 
out, moving toward our right till beyond range of the 
enemy's shots. I picked my way along the foothills of 
the Eaccoon Mountain. 

I had been gone but a few minutes when Colonel 
Orland Smith succeeded in deploying his brigade par- 
allel with the road and facing toward the little hills 
from which a fitful and annoying fire was kept up by 
•the Confederates; they were concealed along a ridge, 
and doubtless delivered their fire at random, as they 
fancied, by the noise, that our men were simply trying 
to march past them in the valley below. 

Smith's men then marched with fixed bayonets 
across the valley road, up the woody slope, through the 
thickets and over the hindering rocks, still receiving a 
fire, but not returning it until the crest was reached. 
The Confederate soldiers were evidently surprised at 
this bold movement, and as soon as they saw in the 
moonlight the shimmer of bayonets they gave way at 
every point. 

In a similar way, and at about the same time, Tyn- 
dall's brigade cleared the heights near him. What was 
known as Ellis's house, beyond the low hills, fell be- 
tween Smith's and Tyndall's brigades. The road 
being now clear, Colonel Hecker, of the Eighty-sec- 
ond Illinois (the same who was wounded at Chan- 
cellorsville, and was now commanding a brigade), 
made his way as rapidly as possible toward Gen- 
eral Geary. 

While the brisk work was going on and I was push- 
ing for Wauhatchie as fast as I could, the firing on 
Geary's front suddenly ceased. As I emerged into an 


Transferred to the West 

open space I could see numbers of men moving about. 
I called to the nearest squad : " Who goes there ! " 

" We are Jenkins's men," was the prompt reply. 
I knew that we had no such commander there, so I 
said: "Have you whipped the Yankees?" The same 
voice replied that they had tried; had got upon the 
Yankees' flank, but just then their men in front had 
given back, so that they had lost their way. Mean- 
while, we drew near enough and, suddenly revealing 
ourselves, took them prisoners. We broke through the 
enemy's cordon and reached Greene, who commanded 
Geary's left brigade. He was frightfully wounded 
through the face. I knew him and his excellent work 
at Gettysburg; his wound now, bad as it looked, did 
not prove fatal. After a word, I passed on to Geary. 
He was a vigorous, strong, hearty and cool-headed man, 
who was astonished to see me suddenly appear at his 
side in the smoke of battle, and I was surprised to find 
that as he grasped my hand he trembled with emotion. 
Without a word he pointed down and I saw that 
Geary's son lay dead at his feet, killed at his father's 
side while commanding his battery in this action. 

Shortly the complete junction was effected by my 
troops, and I hastened back to General Hooker to make 
my report. 

Our loss in the Eleventh Corps was put, before the 
accurate count could be obtained, at 15 to 20 killed, and 
125 wounded. Colonel Underwood, of the Thirty-third 
Massachusetts, was supposed to be mortally wounded. 
I soon had a conversation with him during his extreme 
weakness and prostration, and wrote to a friend these 
words about him : " He has a clear and decided Chris- 
tian faith ; he is a healthy and temperate man and may 
get well." He was promoted for this action at Wau- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

hatchie, and did recover, though with a shortened limb, 
and has lived many years to be useful to his city 
(Boston), and to be a comfort and a help to his family. 

General Thomas said in orders : " I most heartily 
congratulate you, General Hooker, and the troops 
under your command, at the brilliant success you 
gained over your adversary (Longstreet) on the night 
of the 28th ult. The bayonet charge of Howard's 
troops, made up the side of a steep and difficult hill, 
over 200 feet high, completely routing the enemy from 
his barricades on its top, and the repulse by Geary's 
division of greatly superior numbers, who attempted 
to surprise him, will rank among the most distin- 
guished feats of arms of the war." 

The mules tied to park wagons became very restive 
under the noise of the night firing. Many of them as 
soon as the cannon began to roar broke away and, 
strangely enough, rushed straight for the enemy. 
Doubtless in the dim light this was taken by the Con- 
federates for a cavalry charge. This is the battle in 
which occurred the " charge of the mule brigade ! " 




rjlHE movements which resulted in the battle of 
-*• Wauhatchie were but the preliminary steps to 
the execution of Grant's plan of operations. 

This embraced a battle with the Confederate Gen- 
eral Bragg, who continued to sit threateningly before 
Chattanooga, and the freeing of East Tennessee of all 
the Confederate occupancy. 

To effect his purpose Grant ordered Sherman to 
come to us from the vicinity of the Mississippi with as 
many troops as possible. Two days before our Look- 
out Valley battle, which took place the morning of Oc- 
tober 29, 1863, Sherman received Grant's dispatch 
while on the line of the Memphis & Charleston Rail- 
road, to wit : " Drop everything at Bear Creek and 
move toward Stevenson with your entire force until 
you receive further orders." 

Instantly Sherman began his march with four army 
divisions having infantry and artillery — some 20,000 
strong. We had then, during the first week of Novem- 
ber, to operate, or soon should have, the old Army 
of the Cumberland at Chattanooga, under General 
George H. Thomas ; Hooker's two small army corps in 
Lookout Valley with a part back to protect our lines 
of communication toward Nashville; Sherman's ap- 
proaching column and a few small bodies of cavalry. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

With, one line of railway, and that often broken ; with 
the animals weakening and dyuig, and with the men 
badly supplied with even the necessities of life, every- 
thing for a time at Chattanooga was out of joint. 

Still, Grant, in spite of these impediments, pushed 
on to the front and hurried Sherman to our neighbor- 
hood. Of course, many croakers found fault with this 
and prophesied disaster; yet the most of us were in- 
spired by Grant's quiet confidence and plans. Little 
by little great regularity and thorough system cov- 
ered us all. Supplies came on train after train and 
boat after boat to Kelly's Ferry; the military rail- 
road men, who should have abundant praise, began 
to rebuild our railroad from Bridgeport to the front; 
new mules were found to haul everything from Kel- 
ly's Ferry or Landing to Brown's Ferry and thence 
across the two pontoon bridges into Chattanooga; 
medical stores came up; the mails began to appear 
with regularity, and even luxuries found their way to 
the camps, brought from loving hands at home by the 
indefatigable agents of the Christian and Sanitary 

While waiting for Sherman, we had our downs 
as well as our ups. For example, the Confederates 
kept hurling shells into the valley at our trains and 
camps. They could see us better in the morning, when 
the sun was at their backs. They turned around and 
shelled Chattanooga in the afternoon. 

One Sunday, the afternoon of November 15, 1863, 
at 4 P.M., Colonel Balloch, Captain Pearson, Captain 
Stinson, Surgeon Hubbard, and Major Howard ac- 
companied me to our corps hospital in Lookout Valley. 
The orderly took along a basket of grapes. The dis- 
tance was about a mile from my own tent. We foimd 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

the religious service in progress on our arrival. The 
poor sick ones who could leave their beds had gathered 
near the largest hospital and kept their hats off rever- 
ently while the chaplain was praying. The sick inside 
the different tents could hear everything, as canvas 
obstructs the sound but slightly. We sang a hymn and 
then the chaplain preached a sermon about giving our 
bodies and spirits a living sacrifice. He made many 
earnest appeals, and I think left a good impression on 
the men and officers who were present. While he was 
speaking the Confederates made themselves heard by 
an occasional shell from Lookout Mountain. The 
Thirty-third Massachusetts band came near and, as 
soon as the service was over, struck up some familiar 
hymns and airs that were sweet and cheering. As I 
went through the hospital afterwards, I asked the men 
• — ill and wounded — if they liked the music. " Oh, yes ; 
I wish they would play often," was the burden of the 

Sherman marched rapidly. By November 13th his 
advance had reached Bridgeport. He had already ob- 
tained the further orders to keep in motion until he 
found himself in the vicinity of Chattanooga. As soon 
as he reached that point. Grant requested him to have 
his troops close up and come on as fast as the bad 
roads would permit, but hasten in person for an inter- 
view and consultation at Chattanooga. 

Grant was already there. Sherman arrived the 
evening of the 14th. Several officers and I among them 
were present with Grant when Sherman came into the 

Grant's greeting was cordial and characteristic. 
He rose, stood still, and extended his hand, and, while 
his face lighted up with its cheeriest smile, paid Sher- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

man some compliment on his promptitude ; then being 
about to resort to his habitual cigar, offered one to his 
new guest. Sherman took the cigar, lighted it, and 
never ceased to talk in that offhand, hearty, manly way 
which everybody who knew him will remember. He 
had not even stopped to take a seat. Grant pointed to 
an old high-back rocking-chair, and said : 

" Take the chair of honor, Sherman." 

" Oh, no," the latter rejoined ; " that belongs to you. 
General ! " 

Grant humorously remarked : " I don't forget, 
Sherman, to give proper respect to age." 

Sherman instantly took the proffered chair and 
laughingly said : " Well, then, if you put it on that 
ground, I must accept." 

There were no formal introductions. It was as- 
sumed that all who were present were acquainted. 
Sherman quickly took the lead of the whole party and 
brought on a discussion of the military situation or 
other topics to which the consultation tended. 

My real acquaintance with Sherman began that 
evening. It was a privilege to see these two men. 
Grant and Sherman, together. Their unusual friend- 
ship — unusual in men who would naturally be rivals — 
was like that of David and Jonathan. It was always 
evident, and did not grow from likeness, but from un- 
likeness. They appeared rather the complements of 
each other — where the one was especially strong, the 
other was less so, and vice versa. It was a marriage 
of characters, in sympathy, by the adjustment of dif- 

Grant in command was, as everybody then said, 
habitually reticent. Sherman was never so. Grant 
meditated on the situation, withholding his opinion 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

until his plan was well matured. Sherman quickly, 
brilliantly gave you half a dozen. Grant, once speak- 
ing of Sherman in cadet phrase, said : " He bones all 
the time while he is awake ; as much on horseback as 
in camp or at his quarters." It was true. Sherman 
had remarkable topographical ability. A country that 
he once saw he could not forget. The cities, the vil- 
lages, the streams, the mountains, hills, and divides — 
these were as easily seen by him as human faces, and 
the features were always on hand for use. It made 
him ever playing at draughts with his adversary. Let 
the enemy move and Sherman's move was instant and 
well chosen. 

Grant appeared more inclined to systematize and 
simplify; bring up sufficient force to outnumber; do 
unexpected things ; take promptly the offensive ; follow 
up a victory. It was a simple, straightforward calcu- 
lus, which avoided too much complication. It made 
Grant the man for campaign and battle. Sherman was 
always at his best in campaign — in general maneuvers 
— better than in actual battle. His great knowledge 
of history, his topographical scope, his intense sug- 
gestive faculties seemed often to be impaired by the 
actual conflict. And the reason is plain; such a 
mind and body as his, full of impulse, full of fire, are 
more likely to be perturbed by excitement than is 
the more ironbound constitution of a Grant or a 

Sherman, patriotic all through, was very self-re- 
liant. He believed in neglecting fractions and was not 
afraid of responsibility. Grant, probably much influ- 
enced by his earliest teachings, relied rather on Provi- 
dence than simply on himself ; he gathered up the frag- 
ments for use, and was also strong to dare, because 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

somehow, without saying so, he struck the blows of a 
persistent faith. 

As I watched the countenances of those two men 
that evening I gathered hope for our cause. Grant's 
faculty of gaining the ascendency over his generals 
without pretension or assumption then appeared. He 
chose, then he trusted his leaders. They grew great 
because he did not desert them even in disaster. 

After this interview with his commander Sherman 
returned to Bridgeport to bring up his troops by the 
same route over which my command had marched two 
weeks before. On November 23d he finished his march 
with a part of his army and had three divisions on the 
north side of the river nearly opposite Missionary 
Eidge, not far from the Tennessee. Jeff. C. Davis's 
division was sent to him for a reenforcement, while my 
two were brought over into Chattanooga and put into 
camp near Fort Wood to be ready to cooperate with 
Sherman after he should lay a bridge. 

There were, owing to rains and floods, constant 
breakages in our bridges, particularly in the one at 
Brown's Ferry. On account of it, Osterhaus's division 
of Sherman's corps was completely cut off. Grant 
changed his first plan, then made up a new command 
for Hooker — probably was compelled to do so — for it 
did look like wasting strength to put much force 
against the impregnable Lookout Mountain. This 
force consisted of Osterhaus's, Geary's, and Cruft's 
divisions, eight brigades, with the batteries which be- 
longed with them, and a reserve from my corps of two 
batteries — Wiedrich's New York and Heckman's Ohio. 
This force thus organized was gathered together in 
Lookout Valley, and during November 23d Sherman 
was getting his bridge boats well out of sight near the 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

North Chickamauga, opposite Missionary Ridge. 
Hooker was reconnoitering, perhaps for the fifteenth 
time, the west face of the huge Lookout Mountain. 

The rest of this battle front was the Army of the 
Cumberland and its indomitable commander, General 
George H. Thomas, on the Chattanooga side. 

This part of Grant's triple force was destined to 
commence the battle. Some days before, several de- 
serters from Bragg's army had been brought to my 
headquarters. They reported that after the battle of 
Wauhatchie Longstreet had been sent away from our 
front with his corps. This information was after- 
wards confirmed from other sources. Our dispatch 
came from Bragg directly, brought in by a flag of 
truce. It was taken to Grant. It advised the imme- 
diate sending away from Chattanooga of all noncom- 
batants, as he (Bragg) proposed the next day to com- 
mence a regular bombardment of the town. The 
officers who had been there for two months under 
Bragg's bombardments thought that it was a little late 
for the Confederate general to be filled with compas- 
sion and give his warning. Grant smiled as he read 
the message, and said : " It means that Bragg is in- 
tending to run away." 

Longstreet's departure to assail Burnside's force, 
then at Knoxville, and the fear that Bragg might go' 
had induced Grant to order an attack some days before 
he was ready; but as Thomas, for want of horses, could 
not then move his artillery, Grant delayed his order. 
But now (November 23d), as Hooker on our extreme 
right and Sherman on our extreme left were in posi- 
tion. Grant concluded to occupy the attention of the 
enemy while he himself was making ready for his main 
attack, and so ordered Thomas to make a reconnois- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

sance in force. The Fourth Corps, then commanded 
by General Gordon Granger, was selected for this 
duty. It had three divisions under Stanley, T. J. 
Wood, and P. H. Sheridan. The Fourteenth Corps, 
under Palmer, was to watch and support the right of 
the Fourth, while mine (the Eleventh Corps) was kept 
in reserve near at hand ready to support, should the 
exigencies of reconnois sance require it, the left, right, 
or center. There was a considerable hillock or knoll 
about halfway from Fort Wood to the foot of Mission- 
ary Eidge, a third the height of the ridge, called 
" Orchard Knob." Confederate Bragg held this emi- 
nence as an outpost, and had a line of intrenchments 
well filled behind it, running along the base of the 

Granger was in his element. He deployed Wood's 
division in plain view, Sheridan's a little farther to the 
right; and Baird's (of the Fourteenth) was in echelon 
with that. After the deployment a cloud of skirmish- 
ers quickly covered the whole front. I stood near my 
corps at Fort Wood, where were Thomas and Grant. 
We never looked upon a livelier scene — a finer 
parade. The enemy were attracted by this bold ma- 
neuvering, and stood up in groups on their works to 
look at the Yankee parade. Immediately after the 
rapid formation the forward movement began. Away 
the skirmishers went over the rough broken ground, 
appearmg and disappearing among rocks and trees, or 
emerging from small ravines and hollows; and the 
main lines followed on at equal pace. The Confeder- 
ates this time were really taken by surprise. They, 
however, did not run away; they hurried into position, 
and commenced their fire. Some of our men fell, but 
there was no check, no delay ; firing, without halting, 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

was opened by our skirmish line. Sheridan and Baird 
came up abreast of Wood, and all rushed together over 
the detached rifle pits and over the intrenchments of 
Orchard Knob. Many of the enemy were killed or 
wounded or taken prisoners. The remainder ran pre- 
cipitately to help their comrades at the foot of Mis- 
sionary Eidge. The march was stopped at Orchard 
Knob. It had developed artillery and infantry. It 
had put Bragg on his guard, and secured his fixed at- 
tention. It was but a reconnoissance and the troops 
were under orders to move back. Eawlins, his adju- 
tant general, appeared to us to be pleading earnestly 
with Grant. He was overheard to say: "It will not 
do for them to come back." The general for a time 
smoked his cigar peacefully and said nothing. At last 
quietly he said : " Intrench them and send up support." 
His orders were promptly obeyed. Palmer came 
up to secure the right, and I reported to Granger at 
the Knob, while he was expending a little of his extra 
enthusiasm by showing a battery commander how to 
point and serve his guns. Soon all the divisions were 
in place. Very quickly I passed into the woods to our 
left from brigade to brigade of Schurz and Steinwehr, 
and brought them up through the thickets to the Citico 
Creek. In truth, we of the Eleventh Corps were 
soon ahead of our neighbors and proud of it, for by 
my direction Von Steinwehr sent out a regiment — 
the Seventy-third Ohio — which swept the front be- 
yond the creek of all Confederate sharpshooters who 
were inclined to loiter in that region. Granger was 
pleased, and, the hard work of the morning being over, 
he gathered us around him — Sheridan, Baird, Wood, 
Schurz, Steinwehr and others — to tell us how the bat- 
tle had been fought and to show .us the way to fight all 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

battles. It was, indeed, a successful reconnoissance, 
and, tliougli not much of a contest, served with its 
small losses and its real gain to inspirit the whole 

On November 25th Hooker succeeded in perform- 
ing his appointed part in his famous battle above the 
clouds, the thick fog helping his men to climb up nar- 
row passages. At sunrise, in the clear, crisp autumn 
air, they unfurled the national banner from " Pulpit 
Eock," on the extreme point of Lookout Mountain 
overlooking Chattanooga, with cheers that were re- 
echoed by the troops below. 

So much for the first group. 

On November 24th, the morning that Hooker 
started, before 3 a.m., away oif as far as the signal 
officer on Pulpit Rock, had he been there, could have 
seen without his telescope, far to the northeast, the lit- 
tle steamer Chattanooga, without noise, was working 
its way up the big Tennessee River. It soon disap- 
peared from any view, running up some tributary for 
rest and shelter. 

, Earlier than this, a little past midnight, some pon- 
toon boats, carrying over 3,000 of General Sherman's 
men, had issued from the North Chickamauga. Friar's 
Island served them as a cover against the enemy's 
l^ickets. Silently they floated, the current carrjdng 
them swiftly down to the point which Sherman had se- 
lected for his bridge. Here the little steamer came in 
play ; by the boats and by the steamer Sherman caused 
to be sent over opposite to the end of the famous Mis- 
sionary Ridge between eight and nine thousand fight- 
ing men. With this force were plenty of spades, picks, 
and shovels. The Confederate pickets were surprised ; 
some ran, some were captured. But the movement 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

was evidently not prepared for, and, indeed, Bragg 
already had enough line to hold with a small army if 
he came no farther toward Sherman than the Tunnel 
Hill, where the railway crosses the ridge. 

General W. F. Smith superintended the swift 
bridge building; boats moved out from each shore, 
were anchored, the slender joists quickly put down and 
bound with cords, then the men ran with a plank apiece 
and placed it, and so the roadway grew. On the en- 
emy's shore, where the ground gradually rises toward 
the foothills of the mountain ridge, a large curve, 
whose center was at the river, was marked out on the 
grass by a few stakes ; the earth in a few minutes was 
broken by hundreds of strong men — hearty, cheerful 
workers. In less than one hour the long ditch was dug 
and there was ample cover for a large brigade. The 
bridge was not quite completed, and the last few shov- 
elfuls were not yet thrown when, with Colonel Bush- 
beck's small brigade from Chattanooga way, I came in 
sight. Of course, at first, Sherman's men were a little 
startled. They did not expect anything or anybody 
from that quarter except the enemy. The picks and 
shovels were dropped and the rifles were seized; but 
those were not recruits, so they did not fly nor fire, but 
simply looked with 16,000 eyes. We had been sent to 
form a junction and cooperate with Sherman. We had 
started early, too ; had crept quietly along the bank of 
the old river, through the thickets, the meadows, and 
across the small streams, in a circuit of four or five 
miles, encountering but little opposition till that armed 
host of workmen loomed up before us. At once I rec- 
ognized our expected friends, and we were not long in 
getting together. Immediately I went to the bridge, 
dismounted, and ran out upon it just as the last pon- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

toon was being ferried into its place. Sherman had 
not been able to wait on the other shore ; he was on the 
opposite stretch and well out toward the growing end. 
" How are you, General Howard? That's right! You 
must have got up early," and a host of other short sen- 
tences, which one who knew Sherman can easily sup- 
ply, greeted my ears. Before the space was filled with 
planking he sprang across the open draw and we 
clasped hands. We had met before, but this, I think, 
was our first ho7ia fide recognition. We were to be 
hereafter in several campaigns and in many hard bat- 
tles together. At no time after that meeting did I 
receive aught from Sherman but a frank confidence, 
and I am sure that I ever gave to him a cordial and 
loyal service. I think a mutual confidence and sympa- 
thy between souls springs up suddenly, often by the 
simple look into clear, fearless eyes, and these senti- 
ments are sealed by an unreserved grasp of the hands. 
Sherman, in his usual pointed, offhand style, explained 
the situation to me as he saw it. At the time he be- 
lieved himself nearer Bragg's right than he really was. 
* The Missionary Eidge, like the Eaccoon Eange and the 
Lookout, appeared to be continuous, at least along the 
crest, but it proved to be otherwise. Not only were 
there heavy, rocky, wooded spurs jutting out laterally, 
but there were deep chasms and cross ravines cutting 
the crest, so that each jagged knoll so separated had 
to be approached and taken like an isolated bastion. 
General Sherman said: "You must leave me Bush- 
beck's brigade. I shall need it to keep up connection 
with Thomas." Poor Bushbeck looked a little demure 
as I turned to him. He wanted to fight with his own 
corps, but being a true soldier, he said nothing. I left 
him there to struggle hard on Sherman's right flank 



Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

and lose some — yes, many — of his best officers and 
men. I then felt sure that before many hours had 
passed I should bring the remainder of my corps to 
the same flank. I bade Sherman good morning and 
turned back to join my headquarters and Thomas's 
forces near Orchard Knob. 

Now consider that Sherman had four bodies of men 
abreast, and not connected except by the long line of 
skirmishers which covered this whole front. They — 
skirmishers and all — prepared to go up the ridge or 
to skirt along its side slopes. Thus these resolute men 
set out to perform the part allotted to them — a part, 
as it proved, next to the impossible, because nature, 
aided by the Confederate General " Pat " Cleburne, 
who guarded Bragg' s right flank, had made some of 
these crags impregnable. 

Hooker and his men had already " fought above 
the clouds " and unfurled the emblem of a free coun- 
try to the breeze on the most prominent rock of Look- 
out Mountain; Sherman and his divisions had toiled 
and fought with more vigor the second day than the 
first, amid unheard-of ruggedness and against odds. 
It was reserved by Providence to Thomas and his 
army, already four times depleted, November 25, 1863, 
to storm heights more difficult than those of Gettys- 
burg, and to capture batteries and intrenchments 
harder to reach than those of Vicksburg. Grant, who 
was at times certainly distinguished for his powers of 
observation and was as remarkable for self -poise, for 
keeping at bay every impatient impulse, stood there 
at Orchard Knob with the imperturbable Thomas. 
Neither of them wasted any time in words. Orders, 
when given, were brief and pointed. Officers took 
posts for observing, and orderlies, ready to mount, held 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the reins for the dismounted, and messengers stood 
or sat near by with bridles firmly grasped. Aids and 
dispatch bearers from divisions came to Thomas or to 
his chief of staff and to Grant from the wings. They 
came, reported, and went, always moving with a rapid 
pace. There was constant motion there and in the 
army, and yet there was quiet and rest — the quiet, 
however, of a lake about to burst its barriers, the rest 
of a geyser soon to hurl its pent waters high in air. 
About 10 A.M. with my corps I was ordered by General 
Grant to go quickly to Sherman. Colonel Meysenberg, 
my adjutant general, went ahead to Sherman for 
orders, and returning to me en route reported Sher- 
man's instructions to put my command (all except 
Bushbeck's brigade) on the extreme left flank of his 
army. The brigade had already been hotly engaged 
and suffered severe loss. Grant then waited until I 
could get into position. He afterwards waited a little 
longer for Hooker, who was on his other flank. What 
could that officer of unfailing energy be doing? Early 
in the day his flags were seen descending the Summer- 
town road of old Lookout. But his columns had dis- 
appeared in the rolling valley, going toward Rossville. 
Could he have met with disaster? It was hardly pos- 
sible. At last all apprehensions were relieved. A 
message arrived. Hooker, having the bridge ahead of 
him destroyed by the enemy, had been delayed by the 
impassable Chickamauga Creek. That odd stream had 
so many branches, and they were so crooked, that an 
officer could hardly tell on which side of the stream he 
was. It was deep and sluggish, with muddy banks. 
The Confederate General Breckinridge, who that day 
commanded Bragg's left, had greatly bothered Hook- 
er's men, but the obstacle was finally overcome, a 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

bridge was built and Hooker had passed over and was 
working up the slope of the south end of Missionary 
Eidge, and driving Breckinridge's advance before him. 
Now was the fullness of battle time. 

Bragg was up there with a comparatively short 
line. He had well-filled intrenchments a little nearer, at 
the foot of the ridge. The veteran Hardee, against 
Sherman, commanded his right, and Breckinridge, as 
we have said, his left against the lines of Hooker stead- 
ily ascending in that quarter. The Confederate Chief 
Bragg himself, in the center, like an elephant between 
two persistent tigers, had his mind much distracted; 
who could wonder or who, except the Confederate 
press of that day, could blame him! It was the 
" supreme moment." Grant took the cigar from his 
mouth, cleared his throat, and told Thomas to capture 
the intrenchments at the foot of Missionary Eidge. 
The patient Thomas had been ready all day. The six 
loaded cannon were ready. In an instant, one after 
another, in slow succession, so as to be distinctly heard, 
they boomed forth the inspiring signal. Every soldier 
in Thomas's four divisions understood that call. But 
to emphasize it, our various batteries, perched on many 
hills and convenient knolls, at once fired shot and shells 
toward the doomed ridge. 

I am not sure that this previous artillery practice 
in battle at long ranges does much good, where there 
are no walls to break down. It may occupy the en- 
emy's artillery and keep it from effective work against 
our advancing men, but it prevents anything like a sur- 
prise. It would seem wiser to give the foe no formal 
warning, but, like Stonewall Jackson, burst upon his 
flank or his intrenchments, without a previous cannon 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Conceive of Thomas's divisions formed in one line, 
with one or two regiments a little in the rear and in 
echelon, to reenforce the flanks and cover the whole 
front by a double skirmish line, and you have an idea 
of the attacking force. At the signals, the words of 
command sounded simultaneously along the whole line, 
and instantly every man took a quick pace, the skir- 
mishers clearing the front, now at a double-quick, now 
at a run ; when they could they fired upon the enemy's 
skirmishers, but without slacking their pace. The 
country was generally wild, broken, covered here and 
there with thickets, with plenty of rocks, hillocks, and 
small ravines. On, on the Union soldiers went straight 
forward. Of course, the numerous guns from the 
crest all along Bragg's formidable front, opened their 
frightful mouths and belched forth their death-dealing 
charges. The sound of cannon and bursting shells 
seemed to quadruple the effects. The air was filled 
with missiles, but fortunately for our men the fire 
from the lower rifle pits was not very effective ; prob- 
ably it was necessary for each hostile brigade to let 
their own skirmishers come in before a free range 
could be had, and when they did get them in and began 
to fire, there was not time to reload before our deter- 
mined Westerners, skirmish line and all, were upon 
them. At any rate, every Confederate not already 
disabled seemed to think that the time for a hasty re- 
treat had come. The top or the crest of the ridge was, 
like the cemetery crest of Gettysburg, to be the line of 
defense. Our division, brigade, and regimental com- 
manders, I believe many of them on foot and half out 
of breath from the roughness of the field, were in their 
places or coming on, and undertook to obey their 
orders; their voices seemed for once not to be heard, 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

and their men, many of them, never stopped for any 
re-formation nor listened to catch the word of com- 
mand, but immediately followed their retreating foes 
up the steep. 

Thomas and Grant saw the conflict through their 
glasses from Orchard Knob. 

To show the ardor of the troops in this charge with- 
out orders I am reminded of the story of my friend, 
E. P. Smith, then a member of the Christian Commis- 
sion, who followed hard after the moving lines to be 
ready for whatever relief he could bring. Just after 
the action had lulled, he met four stout soldiers carry- 
ing a sergeant to the rear. Smith stopped the stretcher 
bearers for a moment and said gently : " Where are 
you hurt, sergeant? " 

He, as if a little dazed by the question, replied: 
" Almost up, sir." 

" I mean in what part are you injured? " 

He looked steadily toward my friend and answered 
with all the firmness his failing strength could muster : 
"Almost to the top." 

Then Smith folded down the sergeant's coat, or 
blanket, and saw the bleeding, broken shoulder where 
the shell had struck him. The sergeant also turned 
his face toward the wound. " Yes," he exclaimed, 
" yes, that's what did it ; but for that I should have 
reached the top." The sergeant had held the flag at 
the time he was struck. His utterance continued to 
grow fainter and fainter, as he repeated his sorrowful 
thought, " Almost up ! Almost up ! " till his lifeblood 
ebbed and his spirit left the shattered clay. 

There were many more than these who fell on the 
hillside ; some were cold in death, and others were re- 
pressing every sign of sufferings which had stopped 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

tliem midway to the goal of their aspiration. Breck- 
inridge's men gave stout resistance to Sheridan and to 
Hooker, and our sturdy foe, Pat Cleburne, was unwill- 
ing to let go. Surely, these were brave men and com- 
manded brave men. Bragg had no right to condemn 
them and has only injured his own fame in so doing. 
And Jefferson Davis wronged his soldiers when he 
said : " The first defeat that has resulted from miscon- 
duct by the troops." How hard for Mr. Davis ever to 
conceive that he might be wrong ; that the days of slav- 
ery in America were numbered, and that, little by 
little, our men, equally brave with his, were acquiring 
unity of action, strength of muscle and experience, and 
that, with a cause so sacred as ours — namely, the pres- 
ervation and the purification of our Eepublic — and 
with numbers superior to his, there would come times 
like those of Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga, 
when the victory would perch on our banners. 

The enemy gave way — ^his lines were broken in six 
places; and Hooker, with steadfastness, was on his 
flank and aiming for his rear, and Sherman was cling- 
ing to his other side. Yes, Bragg, much as he hated 
to do so, was forced to abandon his stronghold and 
retire with haste. 

Our men turned their own guns upon the retreating 
Confederates and broke their flight in places into a 
rout. But though they were followed up for a few 
miles, yet the roughness of the country, not yet fa- 
miliar to our officers, and the darkness of the ap- 
proaching night closed the action soon after the cap- 
ture of Missionary Kidge. 

General Grant, summing up our losses in the sev- 
eral combats of Hooker, Sherman, and Thomas, gave 
them as 757 killed, 4,529 wounded, and 330 missing. 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

Bragg's losses, as nearly as I can get the figures, were 
3,000 killed and wounded, and about 6,000 prisoners 
left in our hands. Forty cannon fell to us, and at 
least 7,000 small arms. Many of the prisoners were 
wounded, and of them an unusually large number of 
commissioned ofl&cers. 

The flight of the Confederates was soon evident 
along Sherman's lines, for the lively cannon firing had 
ceased and the skirmishers received no return fire; 
they ventured forward at dark and found that the 
death-dealing rocks and barricades had lost their ter- 
ror. As they were reporting this strange story swift 
horsemen had brought the good news to Sherman. 
One cannot exaggerate the joy that animated our men 
at these tidings. You could soon hear the ringing, 
manly shouts as they rose from valley and hillside. 
So the victory was inspiring ; another break had been 
made in the long line of Confederate armies, and that 
at the strongest possible natural bastioned fortress — 
that of Chattanooga. There was no envy nor jeal- 
ousy that night. Hooker's men had bled on Lookout, 
Sherman's near the tunnel, and Thomas's on the broad, 
steep side of Missionary Kidge. After the first burst 
of enthusiasm was over, the men got their suppers 
over brighter fires, drank their coffee a little better 
made, and, after talking all together for a while be- 
tween the puffs of their tobacco pipes, they soon re- 
tired to their beds on the ground, and — except the sen- 
tinels, the wounded, the doctors, their assistants, and 
the officers of rank — were soon fast asleep. 

Nobody can blot out the record, written in men's 
hearts, and sent with shoutings into the everlasting 
spaces, that we were there where brave men fought 
and were victorious, and that, God helping us, we did 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

what we could. If I know myself, I rejoice as much at 
the good name of the great-hearted Thomas as I do at 
my own, but I should distrust any writer who should 
attempt to pull down other great names even to make 
a pedestal for Thomas, for he already has a better one 
in the confidence, love, and praise of all true men who 
served under his command. 

Halleck's judgment at one time (if we may credit 
the reports early in the war) was a little warped in his 
estimate of Grant, so that I think his dispatch from 
Washington after our great battle is quite significant 
and does him honor. It is : " Considering the strength 
of the rebel position and the difficulty of storming his 
intrenchments, the battle of Chattanooga must be re- 
garded as the most remarkable in history. Not only 
did the officers exhibit great skill and daring in their 
operations in the field, but the highest praise is also 
due to the commanding general for his admirable dis- 
positions for dislodging the enemy from a position ap- 
parently impregnable." 

For two days Grant's army pursued the retreating 
forces of Bragg. We stopped at Greyfield, Ga., and 
turned back. When Sherman with the Fifteenth 
Corps and I with the Eleventh were near Mission 
Mills, Sherman received a brief note from Grant. He 
said he couldn't get Granger with the Fourth Corps 
off soon enough for Knoxville, and that Sherman must 
turn north at once, or Burnside would be overwhelmed 
by Longstreet. 

Sherman answered : " Why not send Howard 
with me? " 

Grant, on receiving Sherman's reply, so ordered it. 
I was as badly oif for transportation and supplies as 
Granger; but it was another opportunity. With our 


Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

respective corps Sherman and I marched immediately 
toward Kjioxville; we were about five miles apart, 
Sherman always east of me. 

At the Hiwassee Eiver, Hoffman (my engineer) 
and I, one day just before sunset, stood by the bank in 
the village of Athens, Tenn. The bridge was gone. 
" How long, Hoffman, will it take you to build a bridge 
here ! " I asked. 

He scratched his head for a moment and then said : 
" It is over 200 feet ; I can have a good bridge practi- 
cable for the men and the wagons in ten days." 

" Ten days ! " I cried. " Why, Hoffman, we will 
cross that river at sunrise to-morrow! " 

" Impossible ! " he exclaimed with impatient em- 
phasis. Yet, by using the sheds and outhouses of the 
village and binding the side joists with ropes, we made 
a fine floating bridge, and by sunrise on the morrow 
began our usual day's march by crossing our new im- 
provised structure. I had been born and bred near 
a floating bridge and so I showed the able Hoffman 
how to make one. Sherman, five miles above, felled 
tall trees for stringers and with his pioneers quickly 
made a log bridge. At Loudon I found a sufficient 
number of Confederate wagons for a footbridge 
through the ford, six miles up the Little Tennessee. 
Many of the spokes of the wheels were cut or broken. 
I had the One Hundred and Forty-third New York 
Regiment (Colonel Boughton) nail cleats from felloe 
to felloe. They were strong enough for this regiment 
to drag them the six miles. Boughton and his men 
worked all night to plant these wagons in the deep 
ford, and so plank them from wagon to wagon as to 
make a fairly good footbridge for the men of the 
corps. All except Boughton and his good regiment 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

had had a full night's rest. The colonel, wading most 
of the night with the water above his waist, took a 
severe cold and suffered from acute neuralgia for 
years in consequence of that exposure. By raising the 
loads by planks above the wagon bodies and carrying 
the cannon ammunition upon them in the same way 
we got across the ford without loss. 

Sherman and I came together about thirteen miles 
from Knoxville. A messenger from Bumside here met 
us and told the good news that Longstreet, hearing of 
our approach, had raised the siege and gone off to join 
Lee's army in Virginia. 

Burnside, after the dreadful battle in which Colo- 
nel Saunders and hundreds of men were killed, was ex- 
pecting every day that Longstreet would renew his 
assault and he feared that he would not be able to hold 
out against him. 

Sherman and I halted our commands and then, 
while they were resting in a good camp, rode together 
the thirteen miles. Bumside was delighted to see us, 
and gave us a turkey dinner. The loyal East Tennes- 
see people had kept him well supplied during all that 
long siege. I then remembered President Lincoln's 
words at my last interview with him : " They are loyal 
there, general ! " During my march of 100 miles I was 
every day made aware of the truth of Lincoln's decla- 
ration. Sherman and I marched back to Chattanooga, 
and with the Eleventh Corps I returned to the old 
camp in Lookout Valley. 

By some singular clerical error Sherman in his 
memoirs puts Gordon Granger for me in that Knox- 
ville march. 

Granger after our return did come up to help Burn- 
side, and later, Schofield, in the holding and picketing 


i Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

of East Tennessee for the winter of 1863 and 1864. 
During that time Granger had his headquarters at 

There was quite an interval of time from the close 
of the Knoxville campaign to the beginning of the 
spring operations of 1864. After Chattanooga, the 
Confederate General Bragg withdrew his army, under 
the pressure we gave him, to the little town of Dalton, 
Ga., where he himself was soon replaced by General 
Joseph E. Johnston, whom we have so often met in the 
battles of the East. Johnston reorganized his army, 
gave it discipline and drill, and prepared for the 
spring work which was expected of him. Taking his 
headquarters at Dalton, he faced northward and east- 
ward. The railway line which brought him supplies 
from Atlanta, i. e., from the South, here divided, the 
eastern branch running to Cleveland and toward 
Knoxville, East Tennessee, and the other bearing off 
to Chattanooga and the north, and passed through 
Taylor's Eidge at the famous Buzzard's Boost Gap. 
This gap Johnston held strongly, pushing an outpost 
as far forward as the Tunnel Hill. 

Such was the situation of affairs at Dalton. This 
place, with its difficult approaches, was commonly 
called in the papers the " doorway " of Georgia, and 
certainly there was never a defile more easy to defend 
or more deadly in its approaches than that outer gate 
of Dalton, the Buzzard's Boost Gap. 

Meanwhile, General Thomas, who was still com- 
manding the Army of the Cumberland, made his head- 
quarters at Chattanooga ; but his army was scattered 
— part of his rear back at Nashville, part for 100 miles 
to his left front near Knoxville, and the remainder on 
the direct line between himself and Johnston. He was 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

forced to this dispersion by the necessities of the situa- 
tion as well as by orders from his seniors. Bridges 
were to be built, railways repaired, fortifications to be 
erected, and stores to be accumulated. 

At first he (Thomas) was in hopes that he might 
drive back his foe, occupy Dalton, and thus swing wide 
open the door of Georgia preparatory to Sherman's 
spring proposals. 

A bold reconnoissance was made " after cease- 
less labor and under the greatest embarrassment." 
Wading through mud and water and frost, the troops 
came up in front of the Buzzard's Boost. The gap was 
occupied by a force as strong as Thomas's own; the 
Confederates had more artillery and better cavalry; 
the country was without forage for mules and horses, 
and it was almost impossible to drag forward the heavy 
wagons, as one day's rain would render the Chicka- 
mauga bottom impassable for them, so that this vigor- 
ous forward movement had but one beneficial effect, 
which was to keep Johnston busy where he was — in the 
vicinity of Dalton; for on Thomas's approach he im- 
mediately called for reenforcements. 

While the other troops were very active between 
Chattanooga, Dalton, and Knoxville, the wing of 
Thomas's army to which I belonged — probably about 
20,000 strong, counting up the remaining divisions of 
the Eleventh Corps under Schurz and Von Steinwehr, 
and those of Geary and Ward belonging to the Twelfth 
Corps, with corps and artillery transportation reck- 
oned in (for the latter especially afforded many dili- 
gent employees) — remained in our first camp. 

This temporary city in Lookout Valley had General 
Joseph Hooker for its governor. Its outside intrench- 
ments, better than the walls of a town, running over 




Chattanooga and Missionary Ridf^e 

tlie rolling hills and through the ravines, with Lookout 
for his advance guard and Eaccoon for his reenforce- 
ment and the broad, swift Tennessee for his left flank, 
gave to the gallant general a cheerful repose. Hooker 
that winter and spring held daily court at his pleasant 
headquarters on the hillside, where officers of every 
rank came to receive cordial welcome; to review past 
battles and campaigns and to project new ones. 
I I still have at my house a charming picture, an etch- 
ing made by a skillful German soldier. It represents 
my own headquarters near to Hooker's in the winter 
camp. There is the large tent made more spacious, 
vertically, at least, by its log walls ; more convenient 
of entrance by its rough door of plank, and more 
cottagelike by its lofty chimney of rough stone at the 
farther end. There were other tents in convenient 
order of grouping, without military precision; the 
straggling canvas dining saloons adding to the irregu- 
larity of form and the outdoor stables suggesting but 
brief occupation; a log cottage opposite with living 
figures about it, contrasting the old time with the new. 
I record that on March 28, 1864, Sherman again ar- 
rived at Chattanooga and went on the next day to 
Knoxville. There was a newspaper rumor that the 
Eleventh and Twelfth Corps would be sent back east 
to the Army of the Potomac. I then wrote : " I do not 
expect we shall go back, because I do not see how we 
can be spared from this army. I am rather antici- 
pating Johnston's undertaking some game before long. 
If he take the initiative he may bother us consider- 
ably." March 29th I rode over from Lookout Valley 
to Chattanooga and paid a visit to General Thomas. 
In the course of conversation I inquired of him why 
he did not take a brief " leave " before the active 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

operations should commence and visit his friends in 
the North. 

" Oh," he said, " I cannot leave ; something is sure 
to get out of order if I go away from my command. It 
was always so, even when I commanded a post. I had 
to stick by and attend to everything, or else affairs 
went wrong." 

The escaping slaves made their way to every camp. 
A family came to mine, a part of which I sent North 
to employment. " Sam " remained with me. In a home 
letter I said : " ' Sam ' continues the best man in the 
world. He reads to me every night and morning, and 
keeps up his interest in the Bible. Julia (his aunt, a 
mulatto woman) wants him to become a Christian! 
He is trying." 

On March 19th I gave an account of a scouting expe- 
dition, one among many; On Wednesday, a half hour 
before sunrise, my staff and myself set out for Tren- 
ton, Ga. We took an escort from General Ward's com- 
mand — 200 mounted infantry. The road lies between 
Lookout and Eaccoon all the way. Lookout Creek, 
about sixty feet wide, winds its way through the whole 
distance for twenty miles, the crookedest stream you 
ever saw. The valley of this creek is nowhere level, 
but full of ridges and knolls. We came past many fine 
farms — one quite large, phenomenal at this time and 
place — on our return between the creek and Lookout 
where the depredators have not been. The owner's 
name was Brock. He had a two-story brick house 
almost hidden (it being on that byroad) fences all up, 
sheep in their pastures and negroes at home. Two or 
three ladies appeared as we passed. (They were not 
unfriendly in their look or manner to our party.) 

Trenton is a little village of some half a dozen 


i Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge 

houses, a church, and a village inn. We stopped at 

the latter. Widow G , who lives there, had an aged 

mother in bed and a little son, some ten or twelve years 
old. We ate our lunch there and were permitted to 
put it on her table. All the people of this village 
were " secesh " and impoverished. It was a mystery 
from what source they got enough to eat. 

Eeturning, we crossed the Lookout Creek, skirted 
the mountain, passed Mr. Brock's and other farms 
hidden away behind the ridges and woods. Some three 
or four miles to the east of Trenton, walking and lead- 
ing our horses up the Nic-a-jack trace, we ascended 
Lookout Mountain. This rough, steep mountain path 
had been obstructed by the Confederates near the top 
by fallen trees. They were partially cut away and the 
gateway was made through their breastwork wall, 
which did not completely close the road at the top. We 
now rode along the crest of the great mountain, so as to 
take in the whole valley at a glance. The top of Look- 
out is rather rough and for the most part covered with 
forest. One pretty good road runs lengthwise along 
its back. We left Lookout, the north side of Summer- 
town, and then descended by a new and steep path, 
very difficult, plucked the Epigcea or Mayflower, 
already blossoming near that path. We reached camp 
a little after dark, having made about forty miles in 
one day, besides ascending and descending the steep, 
rugged mountain. The next day Charles (Lieuten- 
ant Colonel C. H. Howard) and I rode to Eoss- 
ville, and, accompanied by General J. C. Davis and 
Captain Daily, his aid-de-camp, went over the battle- 
field of Chickamauga. We found on reckoning up that 
we had ridden that day about twenty-eight miles, and 
I was weary indeed when I got into a chair in my own 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

tent. The first day the weather was cold and raw and 
this took much from our pleasure. We here in the 
West were waiting to see what General Grant was go- 
ing to do. We believed he was proposing to try his 
hand at Eichmond. Such glimpses are suggestive of 
the thoughts, the plans, the operations, and the situa- 
tion of the Northern and Southern men, thousands of 
them then facing each other with arms in their hands 
and ready for other bloody experiences soon to come. 
Not very long after this Sherman set us in motion 
against Johnston, and Grant in the East began his 
more dreadful campaign against the Army of Lee. 




OF the respective commanders of the armies which 
were to operate in advance of Chattanooga, 
namely, of the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and the 
Ohio, Sherman was fortunate in his lieutenants. He 
writes : 

"In Generals Thomas, McPherson, and Schofield 
I had three generals of education and experience, ad- 
mirably qualified for the work before us." 

Each has made a history of his own and I need not 
here dwell on their respective merits as men, or as 
commanders of armies, except that each possessed 
special qualities of mind and of character which fitted 
him in the highest degree for the work then in contem- 

Certain subordinate changes affected me person- 
ally. On April 5, 1864, with two or three officers, I 
rode from my camp in Lookout Valley to Chattanooga, 
some eight or ten miles, and visited General Thomas. 
He explained that the order was already prepared for 
consolidating the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps into one 
body to form the new Twentieth, of which Hooker was 
to have command. Slocum was in Vicksburg, Miss., 
to control operations in that quarter, and I was to go 
to the Fourth Corps to enable Gordon Granger to take 
advantage of a leave of absence. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

I was to gain under these new orders a fine corps, 
20,000 strong, composed mainly of Western men. It 
had three divisions. Two commanders, Stanley and T. 
J. Wood, then present for duty, were men of large ex- 
perience. A little later General John Newton, who will 
be recalled for his work at Gettysburg, and in other en- 
gagements, both in the East and West, an officer well 
known to every soldier, came to me at Cleveland, East 
Tennessee, and was assigned to the remaining division 
which General Wagner had been temporarily com- 

I set out promptly for the new command, taking 
with me my personal staff. The Fourth Corps was 
much scattered, as I found on my arrival at headquar- 
ters in Loudon, April 10th. The first division (Stan- 
ley's) Thomas had kept near him. All through the 
winter it was on outpost duty along his direct eastern 
front, east of Chattanooga — two brigades being at 
Blue Springs and one at Ottowah; the third division 
(Wood's) had remained, after the Knoxville campaign, 
in the department of the Ohio, near to Knoxville. 

Loudon was not far from the mouth of the Little 
Tennessee. Troops were held there to keep up com- 
munication between the two departments of Thomas 
and Schofield. 

After the briefest visit to Loudon and assumption 
of command, I speedily moved the headquarters of this 
Fourth Corps to Cleveland, East Tennessee, fifty 
miles below. My first duty immediately undertaken 
was to concentrate the corps in that vicinity, inspect 
the different brigades, and ascertain their needs as to 
transportation, clothing, and other supplies. Part of 
the command, under General Wood, had been during 
the winter marching and camping, skirmishing and 


The Atlanta Campaign 

fighting in the country part of East Tennessee, so that, 
as one may well imagine, the regiments coming from 
that quarter were short of everything essential to a 
campaign. Supplies were wanting and their animals 
were weak and thin. 

May 3, 1864, Schofield having come down from 
Knoxville to complete what became Sherman's grand 
army, had, with his Army of the Ohio, already arrived 
at Cleveland. With us the preceding month had 
been a busy one. For both officers and men the dis- 
couragements of the past were over. Now, new life 
was infused through the whole body. Something was 
doing. Large forces were seen rapidly coming to- 
gether, and it was evident to every soldier that im- 
portant work was to be undertaken. On Sundays the 
churches were filled with soldiers. Members of the 
Christian Commission had been permitted to visit our 
camp and were still with us. Among them was D. L. 
Moody, the Evangelist, a noble soul, so well known to 
the country for his sympathy and friendship for men. 
His words of hope and encouragement then spoken to 
multitudes of soldiers were never forgotten. 

I wrote from East Tennessee a few words : " I have 
a very pleasant place for headquarters, just in the out- 
skirts of Cleveland. The house belonged to the com- 
pany which owned the copper mill." Again : " We are 
drawing near another trial of arms, perhaps more ter- 
rific than ever. But, on the eve of an active campaign 
and battles, I am not in any degree depressed. . . . 
When it can be done, there is a quiet happiness in 
being able to say, think, and feel, ' Not what I will, but 
what Thou wilt ! ' . . . We are hoping that this cam- 
paign will end the war ! " 

With our left well covered by Ed. McCook's 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

cavalry, our Fourth Corps, at last together, emerging 
from Cleveland, commenced to move in two columns; 
the left passed through Red Clay and the other farther 
west by Salem Church. The morning of May 4th 
found us at Catoosa Springs. These springs were on 
the left of General Thomas's army lines. His whole 
front looked eastward toward Tunnel Hill. Tunnel 
Hill, Ga., was between the Northern and Southern 
armies, the dividing ridge; it was the outpost of John- 
ston's advanced troops, which faced toward Chatta- 
nooga. The bulk of his force was behind, at the village 
of Dalton, covered by artificial works northward and 
eastward, and by the mountain range of Rocky Face 
Ridge toward the west. The famous defile through 
this abrupt mountain was called Buzzard's Roost Gap. 
From Rocky Face to Tunnel Hill, which is a parallel 
range of heights, the Chattanooga Railroad crosses a 
narrow valley, passes beneath the hill by a tunnel and 
stretches on toward Chattanooga. 

The Confederate official returns for April 30, 1864, 
gave Johnston's total force as 52,992, and when Polk's 
corps had joined a little later at Resaca his total was 
raised to 71,235. 

Sherman, in his Memoirs, aggregates the Army of 
the Cumberland 60,773 ; the Army of the Tennessee, in 
the field, 24,465 ; the Army of the Ohio, 13,559 ; making 
a grand total of 98,797 officers and men, with 54 

As Johnston's artillerymen were about the same 
in number as Sherman's, probably Johnston's artil- 
lery, in its guns, numbered not less than Sherman's. 

The Army of the Cumberland delayed in the vicin- 
ity of Catoosa Springs till May 7th, to enable McPher- 
son, with the Army of the Tennessee, to get around 


The Atlanta Campaign 

from Northern Alabama into position in Sugar Valley 
to the south of us and to bring down Schofield from 
East Tennessee to the east of us. He was located near 
Bed Clay; that is, near Johnston's direct northern 
front. It will be seen that the Chattanooga (Western 
and Atlantic) Eailroad, which passes through Tunnel 
Hill, Buzzard's Roost, and then on to Dalton, where it 
meets another branch coming from the north, through 
Eed Clay, constituted our line of supply and commu- 
nication. Thomas had early advised Sherman that, in 
his judgment, McPherson and Schofield should make 
a strong demonstration directly against the enemy's 
position at Dalton, while he himself with the Army of 
the Cumberland should pass through the Snake Creek 
Gap and fall upon Johnston's communications. 

Thomas felt confident, if his plan were adopted, 
that a speedy and decisive victory would result. I be- 
lieve that he, as events have proved, was right; but 
Sherman then thought and declared that the risk to his 
own communications was too great to admit of his 
throwing his main body so quickly upon the enemy's 
rear, and he then feared to attempt this by a detour of 
twenty miles. 

Later in the campaign Sherman's practical judg- 
ment induced him to risk even more than that when 
he sent whole armies upon the enemy's lines of com- 
munication and supply; but at this time Sherman 
chose McPherson's small but stalwart force for that 
twenty miles forward and flanking operation. 

The morning of May 7th my corps left camp at Ca- 
toosa Springs to perform its part in these operations. 
It led off, due east, along the Alabama road till it came 
into the neighborhood of a Mr. Lee's house. 

Here, under my observation, a partial unfolding of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

my troops took place; quite a long front appeared — 
Stanley's division on the right, Newton's on the left, 
and Wood's in reserve. First, a few cracks of hostile 
rifles, then an exciting skirmish on both sides set in, 
but there was no halting. Steadily our men pressed 
forward, driving back first the Southern cavalry pick- 
ets and outer lines till, awakening opposition more and 
more, about nine o'clock our foe crowned Tunnel Hill 
with considerable force and fired briskly upon our ad- 
vance. The same angry reception was given to the 
Fourteenth Corps, coming up simultaneously south- 
ward beyond our right. Then I saw that the Confed- 
erate artillery had only cavalry supports, so that im- 
mediately I ordered a charge along our lines. Our 
troops promptly sprang forward and carried the 
" crowned hill." 

Now, from Tunnel Hill we had Eocky Face in plain 
view. It was a continuous craggy ridge at least 500 
feet high, very narrow on top, but having in places a 
perpendicular face almost as abrupt as the Palisades 
of the Hudson ; the eastern steeps, favorable to John- 
ston's ascent and defense, were more gradual. 

Through Buzzard's Eoost Gap, which cuts in two 
the Eocky Face, there were both a railway and a 
wagon road, also a small stream of water. 

This the Confederates had so dammed up as to pre- 
sent a formidable obstacle. They had further so ar- 
ranged their batteries and their infantry intrench- 
ments as to completely sweep every hollow and 
pathway in that formidable defile. 

Thomas, however, as he always did, pushed us for- 
ward with steadiness and vigor — Fourteenth Corps in 
the center, Fourth and Twentieth on the left and right. 
Meanwhile McPherson was steadily winding his way 


The Atlanta Campaign 

through Snake Creek Gap toward Eesaca, and Scho- 
field constantly pressing his heavy skirmish lines from 
Bed Clay toward Dalton, to unveil from that northern 
side Johnston's half -concealed intrenchments. 

A couple of miles away to my right, southward, on 
May 9th, the Twentieth Corps, under Hooker, had 
hard fighting indeed. Fifty men were killed and a 
large number wounded. My personal friend, Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Mcllvain, Sixty-fourth Ohio, was killed 
here. Every regimental commander in this hard 
struggle was wounded. The Fourteenth Corps also, 
under Palmer, nearer to us, had its own brisk work. 

From this command, the Sixty-sixth Illinois kept 
working forward by the side of the dangerous gap, 
drawing fire, and driving in the enemy's outer lines. 
The soldiers finally obtained shelter, without being 
able to get farther forward, within speaking distance 
of their foes. One enterprising corporal made a bar- 
gain with some Confederates who were throwing 
heavy bowlders from above, that if they would refrain 
from their bothersome work, he would read to them 
the President's famous amnesty proclamation. He did 
so, and comparative quiet was kept during this strange 

On May 8th General Newton, with my second divi- 
sion, had managed, after working up some two miles 
north of the gap, to push a small force up the slope, 
and then, taking the defenders by a rush drove them 
along southward on the ridge until he had succeeded 
in capturing from the Confederates at least one-third 
of the ridge. Here he established a signal station. He 
next tried, but in vain, to seize and capture a Confed- 
erate signal party, which he deemed too actively talk- 
ing by the busy use of their flags. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Stanley and "Wood, on Newton's right, stretched 
out their own lines to some extent, and gave Newton 
all the support they could in that difficult ground near 
the west palisades of the ridge. During the night his 
men dragged up the steeps two pieces of artillery, and 
by their help gained another 100 yards of the hotly 
disputed crest. 

On May 9th another experiment was tried. Under 
instructions I sent Stanley's division for a reconnois- 
sance into that horrid gap of Buzzard's Boost, until 
it had drawn from the enemy a strong artillery fire, 
which redoubled the echoes and roarings of the valleys 
and caused to be opened the well-known incessant 
rattle of long lines of musketry. 

It was while making preparations for this fearful 
reconnoissance that a group of officers were standing 
around me, among them General Stanley and Colonel 
(then Captain) G. C. Kniffin, of his staff. The enemy's 
riflemen were, we thought, beyond range; but one of 
them, noticing our party, fired into the group. His ec- 
centric bullet made three holes through the back of 
my coat, but without wounding me, and then passed 
through Kniffin's hat, and finally struck a tree close at 
hand. The group of observers speedily changed their 

McPherson, now near Eesaca, was not so success^ 
ful as Sherman had hoped. Though there were but 
two Confederate brigades at that town, the nature oi 
the ground was, for McPherson, unpropitious in th( 
extreme. The abrupt ravines, the tangled and thicl 
wood, and the complete artificial works, recently re- 
newed, which covered the approaches to Eesaca, made 
McPherson unusually cautious, so that the first dayj 
after an unsuccessful effort to strike the railroad,) 


f The Atlanta Campaign 

Johnston's main artery, he fell back to a defensive line 
near the mouth of the gap and there intrenched his 

Just as soon as Sherman had received this news, he 
altered his plan and sent his main army, except Stone- 
man's cavalry division and my corps, by the same 
route. General Stoneman, with his force, had just ar- 
rived from Kentucky. 

With this comparatively small force I kept up on 
the old ground a lively and aggressive work during 
Thomas's and Schofield's southward march with per- 
haps even more persistency than before ; yet probably 
the withdrawal of Schofield from Eed Clay by Sher- 
man, and the replacement of his skirmishers by cav- 
alry, together with the report that McPherson was so 
near to his communications, made the always wary 
and watchful Confederate general suspicious that 
something in the enemy's camp — that is, in my part of 
it — was going wrong for him. 

Therefore, on the 12th he pushed a sizable force 
out northward toward Stoneman, and made a strong 
reconnoissance, which, like a handsome parade, I be- 
held from Newton's Eidge and which in the ravines 
and thickets and uncertain light was magnified to large 
proportions in the lively vision of our soldiers behold- 
ing it. 

At first some of our officers feared that Johnston, 
letting his communications go, would attempt a battle, 
so as to crush my Fourth Corps. But soon the tide 
turned, and the tentative force retired within the Con- 
federate intrenchments. 

Under cover of the night ensuing, Joe Johnston, as 
he did many times thereafter, made one of his hand- 
some retreats; no man could make retreats from the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

front of an active, watdifiil enemy with better success 
than he. At daylight of the 13th I pressed my moving 
forces with all speed after the foe as boldly as possible, 
bnt was delayed all day by the enemy's active rear 
guard, the roughness of the country affording that 
guard successive shelters. It took time to dislodge the 
fearless hinderers, yet I did finally before dark of the 
same night succeed in forming substantial junction 
with Sherman, who, in person, having hastened on the 
day before, was at that time near McPherson on 
ground to the west of Eesaca. Meanwhile, Johnston, 
with his main body, was obstructing, by his peculiar 
asperities, the roads to that town and getting ready 
for the next day's battle. 

To show the costliness of such operations, in my 
corps alone there were already in the little combats 
about 300 wounded. My march following Johnston 
had been rapid and full of excitement. My mind had 
been bent upon the situation, watching against any 
sudden change; sending scouts to the right and left; 
getting reports from the cavalry in front, or beating 
up the woods and thickets that might conceal an am- 
buscade. After my arrival in the evening came the ar- 
rangement of the men upon the new ground ; then the 
essential reports and orders for the next day; then fol- 
lowed the welcome dinner that our enterprising mess 
purveyor and skillful cook had promptly prepared. 
Here around the mess chest used for a table my staff 
sat with me and spent a pleasant hour chatting, and 
leisurely eating the meal, discussing events of the past 
day and the hopes of the morrow. 

Of the movement at Eesaca Joseph E. Johnston 
says: "The two armies" (Sherman and his own) 
" were formed in front of Eesaca nearly at the same 


The Atlanta Campaign 

time, so that the federal army could give battle on 
equal terms, except as to numbers, by attacking 
promptly, the difference being about 10 to 4." 

There is evidently a great mistake in this state- 
ment. In all Confederate writings this claim of dis- 
parity of numbers is noticeable and difficult to be 
accounted for. General Polk had arrived and the Con- 
federate army at this place was admitted by Hood to 
have been about 75,000. Sherman's force was at first, 
as we have seen, 98,797; then, diminished by a thou- 
sand casualties at Eocky Face and vicinity and in- 
creased by Stoneman's cavalry, which did not exceed 
4,000, we had a new aggregate of about 101,797. It is 
difficult to understand how Johnston can make it any- 
where near 10 to 4, or even 2 to 1, against him! It 
is well, however, to remember what we have before 
frequently noticed, that our opponents used the word 
" effectives," counting the actual number of men carry- 
ing rifles and carbines, plus the enlisted artillerymen 
actually with their guns ; whereas our officers counted 
in all present for duty, officers and men, no matter 
how multitudinous and varied the details might be. It 
is plain, however we come to estimates, that the dis- 
parity between the actual armies was not very great at 
the battle of Eesaca. We could not possibly put into 
line of battle, counting actual fighting elements, more 
than four men to Johnston's three. 

On May 14, 1864, Polk, with the new corps, had 
already come up. 

As always in this campaign, this Confederate army 
was promptly marched into position, and without 
delay intrenched. On the other hand, our forces ap- 
proaching Eesaca through the gap on the one side and 
from Dalton on the other, had to work slowly and care- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

fully to feel for the enemy's pickets and for each other 
in that blind, rough, broken, wild, tangled, unknown 

It was near twelve o'clock of May 14th before we 
had formed solid junction with each other, and, after 
that, the lines had to be changed while we worried for- 
ward. Sometimes long gaps between brigades trou- 
bled the division commanders, and sometimes an aston- 
ishing overlapping of forces displaced regiments as 
they advanced. 

The 14th, then, was mainly spent by Sherman in 
placing McPherson on our right, near the Oostanaula, 
Schofield next, and Thomas on the left. My corps 
reached the railroad and formed Sherman's left, and 
was faced against the strong position of Hood. As the 
Connasauga beyond Hood bent off far to the east, it 
was quite impossible for my left regiments to reach 
that river, so that, after examining the ground, I was 
again forced to have the left of my line " in the air." 
But Stanley's excellent division stationed there, by 
refusing (drawing back) its left brigade and nicely 
posting its artillery, formed as good an artificial ob- 
stacle against Hood as was possible. 

Sherman had instructed McPherson after his ar- 
rival from Snake Creek Gap, and just before the re- 
mainder of the army joined him, to work toward his 
right and forward, and make an effort to seize John- 
ston's railroad line near Eesaca. To this end, durmg 
May 14th, several lively demonstrations were made by 
McPherson to carry out Sherman's wishes. 

The importance of McPherson' s capture of some 
heights, situated between Camp Creek and the Oos- 
tanaula, cannot be doubted, for that high ground 
manned with our guns spoiled all Confederate transit 


The Atlanta Campaign 

by the railway and the wagon road bridges, and 
caused the Confederates to lay a new bridge of boats 
farther up the river. 

General Schofield with his " Army of the Ohio," 
consisting of but one corps, the Twenty-third, fought 
near the center of our line. 

It was worse and worse for Schofield (Judah's 
division) as he pressed forward. By the help of my 
troops. Cox's division was enabled to hold its ground. 
His soldiers acted as did McPherson's later at At- 
lanta: aligned themselves on the outside of their en- 
emy's trenches and sheltered their front by making 
small trenches till help came. I remember well that 
swinging movement, for I was on a good knoll for ob- 
servation. It was the first time that my attention had 
been especially called to that handsome, gallant young 
officer and able man, Jacob D. Cox. He was following 
his troops, and appeared full of spirit and energy as 
he rode past the group of officers who were with me. I 
was watching the movement so as to find where his 
lines would finally rest in order to support his left. 
This part of our work was exciting, for the air was 
already full of bursting shells and other hissing mis- 
siles of death. It was much like the first Bull Run, 
where my brigade was detained for several hours 
within hearing of the battlefield. I experienced the 
same feeling again here at Resaca while beholding 
from my high ground Cox's and Wood's divisions 
going so rapidly forward into battle. The noise was 
deafening; the missiles carried the idea of extreme 
danger to all within range, and the air appeared for 
the time as if doubly heated. 

The effect was like that of a startling panorama of 
which one forms a part. There was a sense of danger, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

deep and strong, relieved by a magnificent spectacle 
and the excitement of the contest. Such moments 
afford unusual glimpses of an extraordinary mental 
world, which leave impressions of interest and memory 
not easily explained. 






HE partial discomfiture of Judah's enterprising 
men early on May 14, 1864, brought to them one 
of my divisions (Newton's). 

Newton steadily breasted the Confederates, driv- 
ing them back and causing them heavy losses, and his 
men, counting out a few stragglers, kept their lines 
perfectly and behaved like old soldiers. Newton 
showed here his wonted tenacity. He secured all the 
ground he could gain by a steady advance, and, stop- 
ping from time to time, returned fire for fire, until the 
fierce artillery and rifle fusillade on both sides dimin- 
ished to a fitful skirmish. Palmer's corps was doing 
similar work to my right. 

Farther toward the left, over the rough ground 
east of Camp Creek, and amid the underbrush and 
scattered chestnut trees, I beheld my third division in 
line. Thomas J. Wood commanded it; covered by a 
complete skirmish front, every man and officer was in 
his place. He waited, or he advanced cautiously, so as 
to support Newton. 

I came forward and was with him as his men ad- 
vanced into place. The movement was like a dress 
parade. I observed Wood's men with interest. How 
remarkably different the conduct of his veteran sol- 
diers compared with new troops ! They were not, per- 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

haps, braver, but they were less given to excite- 
ments, and knew always what was coming and what 

to do. 

I remember, when suddenly the enemy's skirmish 
fire began. Wood's main lines immediately halted and 
lay prone upon the ground. They returned the fire, 
but never too rapidly. 

When Wood was completely ready, he caused a 
quick advance, drove back the enemy's skirmishers, 
and seized the detached rifle pits, capturing a few pris- 
oners. Every Confederate not killed, wounded, or 
captured ran at once to his breastworks proper, and 
for a short time the fire of artillery and infantry from 
his main line was brisk and destructive enough. At 
last. Wood, by planting and covering his own batteries 
with epaulements, and by intrenching and barricading 
his men, was able to give back blow for blow. 

Stanley's division of my corps came up by my in- 
structions on Sherman's extreme left. His men and 
batteries were well located, as well as could be done 
with the whole left flank in air. Stanley endeavored, 
by his reserve brigade, and by his artillery carefully 
posted behind his lines, through its chief. Captain 
Simonson, to so reenforce his left as to make up for 
want of any natural obstacle. Though he protected 
the railway and the main Dalton wagon road, yet there 
was a long stretch of rough ground between Stanley's 
left and the Oostanaula; the bend of the river was so 
great that an entire corps, thrust in, could hardly have 
filled the opening. 

Stanley had the same lively advance as the others, 
and was well up and in position before 3 p.m. of this 
day, May 14th. My secretary, Joseph A. Sladen (then 
a private of the Thirty-third Massachusetts Infantry, 


Battle of Resaca and the Oostanaula 

afterwards my aid-de-camp and by my side in cam- 
paign and battle for twenty- three years) voluntarily 
did such distinguished service that day that he was 
awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The cool- 
ness and courage of his example and, as he told me, 
equally energetic work of my brother. Lieutenant 
Colonel C. H. Howard, inspired panic-stricken troops 
to turn and repel fierce assaults. Johnston was quick 
to detect anything so tempting as a " flank in air," and 
so he directed Hood to send heavy columns against and 
beyond my left flank. 

The front attack was handsomely met and the bat- 
teries well used, but Stanley, finding the turning force 
too great for him, sent word to me, then near Wood, 
that the enemy was rapidly turning his left. 

Knowing the situation exactly, I took with me 
Colonel Morgan of the Fourteenth Infantry (colored 
troops), who was temporarily on my staff, and gal- 
loped to Thomas, fortunately at the time but a few 
hundred yards off. I explained to him the alarming 
condition of things on my left, and begged for imme- 
diate reenforcement. 

Thomas (Sherman being present) directed Hooker 
at once to send me a division, and with no delay 
Hooker detached from his Twentieth Corps the vet- 
eran division of A. S. Williams. Colonel Morgan, act- 
ing for me, guided them as fast as foot troops could 
speed straight to Stanley's flank. The division came 
when most needed. 

Deployed at double time at right angles to Stan- 
ley's line, instantly with the batteries Williams opened 
a terrific, resistless fire. The hostile advance was 
checked, the tide turned, and the Confederates were 
swept back and driven within their intrenchments. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Our losses were great. In my corps that day 400 men 
were put hors de combat. 

Next morning very early I reported for joint work 
to Hooker, my senior in rank. At his headquarters I ^ 
learned what points of Johnston's line he intended toi 
assail and I had him carefully describe to me the man- 
ner in which he would form his troops, and agreed 
with him how best to give him my prompt support. 

At last, after some more irksome delays, every- 
thing was in readiness. Hooker's corps was drawn up 
in column of brigades — that is, each brigade in line, 
and one following another with no great intervals be- 
tween them. My support was placed, at call, on his 
right and left. I was so to breast the enemy along my 
whole front that they could not detach brigades or 
regiments against Hooker; and, further, as Hooker 
gained ground, I had so arranged as to follow up his 
movement and aid him to seize and hold whatever he 
should capture. Besides all this, I had a clear reserve, 
which was kept ready for him in case of disaster or 
other extraordinary need. The ground in our front 
was very rough, appearing to our observation like de- 
tached stony knolls more or less covered with trees. 

The noise of musketry and cannon and shouting 
and the attending excitement increased as the forces 
neared each other. Hooker appeared to gain ground 
for some time. His men went on by rushes rather than 
by steady movement. Two or three sets of skirmish 
trenches were captured before Butterfield's leading 
brigade had run upon a strong Confederate lunette. 

After desperate fighting, the enemy, behind cover, 
would break Hooker's men back, only to try again. 
Finally, the latter seeing a covered position close by, 
a rush was made for it. Butterfield, aided by Geary, 


Battle of Resaca and the Oostanaula 

secured it. So near to the guns and beneath a crest 
were the men that they by their fire almost paralyzed 
their use against our advance lines. These guns, how- 
ever, at intervals did bloody work, using canister and 
shells against brigades farther off. 

During this advance of Hooker, which, we confess, 
was not very successful and attended with loss, the 
Twenty-third Corps, or a good part of it, was brought 
over to aid Hooker and me at any instant when Hooker 
should make a break through the enemy's main line. 

It is said one regiment, the Seventieth Indiana, 
sprang from a thicket upon the lunette and, as they 
came on, the Confederate artillerists blazed away 
without checking our men. They entered the embra- 
sures ; they shot the gunners. 

In this effort Ward was badly wounded. Colonel 
Benjamin Harrison immediately took his place and 
gallantly continued the work. 

The fire from intrenchments behind the lunette 
became severe, being delivered in volley after volley; 
too severe to render it proper to remain there ; so that 
Harrison, getting ready to make another vigorous ad- 
vance, drew back his line a few yards under cover of 
the lunette hill. 

Here a color bearer by the name of Hess, One Hun- 
dred and Twenty-ninth Illinois, chagrined to hear the 
shrill, triumphant cry of the Confederates, at once un- 
furled his flag, swinging it toward them in defiance. 
He instantly fell, but other hands grasped the flag, and 
it came back only to return and wave from the very 
spot where its former bearer fell. 

In the most determined way those four guns were 
now defended by the blue and gray, costing many 
lives; but there they stayed hereafter in the middle 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

space, unused by either party, till dark. The Confed- 
erates then made a bold charge to retake them, but our 
men promptly and successfully repelled the charge. 
Finally, the picks and spades were brought up by our 
soldiers, and our defenders dug their way to the guns. 
At last these costly trophies were permanently 
brought into our possession. The Confederate com- 
mander names this as an advanced battery of Hood's, 
put out beyond his front, on the morning of May 15, 
80 or 100 yards. 

We now know that Hood, in front of Hooker, had 
been constantly reenforced by Hardee and Polk, and 
that just as Hooker started his column Hood had 
pushed out his attacking lines, so that the first shock 
beyond the Confederate trenches was severe, each side 
having taken the offensive. 

Finally, Hovey led a movement at double-quick, 
and encountered a dreadful fire, but succeeded in rout- 
ing the Confederates' obstinate attacking column and 
driving it to its own cover; I was watching and my 
corps bore its part. Artillery and musketry had been 
kept active all along my front and strong demonstra- 
tions with double-skirmish lines were made for my 
center and right. We succeeded at least in keeping the 
Confederates from seizing any point on my ground. 
Brigadier General Willich was severely wounded in 
this engagement; Harker and Opdycke of Newton's 
division were also wounded, but able to remain on the 

Sherman's aggregate loss in the whole battle of Re- 
saca was between 4,000 and 5,000. Nearly 2,000 were 
so slightly injured that they were on duty again within 
a month. By referring again to the comments of the 
Confederate commander in his reports, we see that 


Battle of Resaca and the Oostanaula 

the cause of his retreat is not ascribed to the per- 
sistent fighting which I have described. He says: 

" It was because two (new) bridges and a large 
body of Federal troops were discovered the afternoon 
of the 14th at Lay's Ferry, some miles below, strongly 
threatening our communications, indicating another 
flanking operation, covered by the river as the first 
had been by the ridge." 

By instructions from Sherman, McPherson had 
early sent a division of the Sixteenth Corps, com- 
manded by the one-armed General Sweeny, to Lay's 
Ferry. He was to make a lodgment on the other bank 
of the Oostanaula and protect the engineering officer, 
Captain Eeese, while the latter laid his pontoon bridge. 

Sweeny found some force there which he dislodged ; 
but, getting a report, which then seemed to him very 
probable, that the Confederates were crossing above 
him and would cut him off from our army, he withdrew 
and retired at least a mile and a half from the river; 
but the next day, the 15th of May, he made another at- 
tempt to bridge the Oostanaula, which was more suc- 
cessful. This time Sweeny had, after crossing, a 
serious engagement with a division which the Confed- 
erate commander had detached against him. In this 
Sweeny lost 250 men killed and wounded. Neverthe- 
less, Sweeny, using his intrenching tools, established 
his bridgehead on the left bank of the Oostanaula, 
drove off the opposing Confederate force and opened 
the way for our cavalry to operate upon Johnston's 

We were up bright and early on the morning of the 
16th. The sunlight gave a strange appearance to the 
smoke and fog among the tree tops. During our deep 
sleep between midnight and dawn a change had been 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

wrought. Not a cannon, not a rifle, not a carbine was 
over beyond our front there to give defiant shots. The 
tireless Newton was on the qui vive and, the first to 
move, his skirmishers soon bounded over the parapets 
of Hood to find them empty» 

When my report at Kesaca, that Newton occupied 
the abandoned trenches at dawn of May 16th, reached 
Sherman, he instantly ordered pursuit. One division 
of our cavalry, under Garrard, was scouting off 
toward Rome, Ga., so now the infantry division of Gen- 
eral Jeff. C. Davis was hurried down the Oostanaula 
Valley, keeping on the right bank of the river, to sup- 
port the cavalry, and, if possible, seize Rome and 
hold it. 

Two bridges were already in good order at Lay's 
Ferry. Sweeny's division, as we have previously 
seen, was across the river, so that at once McPherson 
began his movement and pushed on southward, endeav- 
oring to overtake the retreating foe. A few miles out, 
not far from Calhoun, McPherson's skirmishers en- 
countered the Confederates, and a sharp skirmish 
speedily followed. 

Johnston did not long delay in his front and yet he 
was there a sufficient length of time to cause McPher- 
son to develop his lines, go into position, and get ready 
for action. The expected affair did not come off, for 
Johnston had other points demanding his attention. 

The next morning, finding the enemy gone, McPher- 
son continued his movement down the river road to 
a point — McGuire's Crossroads — which is about due 
west of Adairsville, and eleven miles distant. 

Meanwhile, Thomas, with my corps and the Four- 
teenth, took up a direct pursuit. The railroad bridge 
over the Oostanaula had been partly burned, but a 


Battle of Resaca and the Oostanaula 

rough floating bridge was quickly made from the tim- 
bers at hand. 

My corps led in this pursuit; we also, just after 
McPherson's skirmish, began to exchange shots with 
Johnston's rear guard; we made during the 16th but 
slow progress. 

General Stewart's Confederate division constituted 
Johnston's rear guard, which we were closely follow- 
ing. The severe skirmish of the evening was a brief 
one between Stanley's division and Johnston's line at 

Early the next day (the 17th) our column, passing 
the enemy's empty works at Calhoun, continued the 
march; Newton's division, starting at half -past five, 
was followed by Stanley's. Newton took the Adairs- 
viile wagon road, while Wood, a little farther to the 
right, came up abreast along the railroad. I was near 
Newton. Our progress was continually interrupted. 

As we neared Adairsville the resistance increased. 
Wood, sent by me across the railway, kept extending 
his skirmish line and strengthening it till it abutted 
against the enemy's main line west of Adairsville. 
Newton, under my immediate direction, east of Wood, 
did the same, deploying farther and farther to the left 
and doubling his advance line. 

It was four o'clock in the afternoon when Newton's 
men, rushing into a grove of trees, brought on from 
the Confederates a heavy fire. It was a little later 
than this when Sherman came riding up with his staff 
and escort and, joining me, led off to the highest 
ground. There he was observing with his field glass 
till he drew the fire of a battery. 

The skirmishing on both sides had grown into brisk 
and rapid firing just as I was approaching Sherman, 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Newton and his staff with me. Our group, so large, 
attracted attention. A hostile battery of several guns 
was quickly turned upon us. The shells began to burst 
over our heads at our right and left. One of them dis- 
abled the horse of Colonel Morgan, my senior aid, 
another that of Colonel Fullerton, my adjutant gen- 
eral; Newton's aid. Captain Jackson, was wounded; 
two orderlies' horses were disabled, and still another 
horse belonging to the headquarters' cavalry was crip- 
pled. One piece of a shell in the air slightly wounded 
Captain Bliss, also of Newton's staff, carrying away 
the insignia of rank from his shoulder. 

It was evident, as there was fighting along the front 
of two divisions — which had been increased and re- 
enforced — that the Confederates were making a 
strong stand here at Adairsville; so we prepared for 
battle and I made haste to bring up my reserves for a 
decided assault. However equipped and supplied, it 
always required time to get an attacking column in 
readiness for action. Quite promptly the columns 
were in motion ; but as soon as the vigorous movement 
was inaugurated, Thomas, then by my side, said to me 
that it was too near night for me to take the offensive. 
He advised me further to simply do what was needed 
to hold my position, and postpone, if possible, any gen- 
eral engagement till daylight the next morning. 

One battery of artillery, however, drew another 
into action. Our batteries one after another were 
quickly brought up, and fired with their usual spirit 
and vigor. The sun went down upon this noisy, un- 
usual, and bloody conflict, where probably both parties, 
could they have had their way, were really disposed to 
wait till the morning. 

It was nine o'clock at night, and very dark, before 


Battle of Resaca and the Oostanaula 

we could entirely disengage. Then the rattling mus- 
ketry with an occasional boom of cannon continued 
further into the night, then gradually diminished to a 
fitful and irregular fire. 

The losses in my corps resulting from this combat 
at Adairsville were at least 200 killed and wounded. 

During the night the Fourteenth Corps came 
within close support, and McPherson moved from Mc- 
Guire's so much toward Adairsville as to connect with 
Thomas's right flank. But there was no general ac- 
tion; the next morning at dawn (May 18th), I found 
that Johnston had made another clean retreat. The 
reason for it we will find by taking the map and fol- 
lowing the movement of Sherman's left column. This 
column was Schofield's, reenforced by Hooker's corps. 
Sherman had sent Hooker to follow Schofield over the 
ferries that ran across the branches of the Oostanaula 
above me, because our new bridge at Eesaca had not 
sufficient capacity for all, and probably, furthermore, 
to give greater strength to his flanking force. 

The left column, setting out at the same hour with 
me, was obliged to make a wide detour eastward 
and to cross two rivers instead of one, to wit, the Con- 
nasauga and the Coosawattee. Schofield laid his 
bridges at Fite's and Field's crossings. The cavalry 
forded the rivers, these made two columns coming up 
beyond my left. Johnston heard during the night, by 
reports from his active cavalry scouts, that Hooker 
and Schofield were beyond his right and aiming for 
Cassville, thus threatening the Allatoona Bridge, 
which was to be his main crossing of the Etowah. He 
knew, too, that McPherson, as we noticed, had already 
turned his position on the other flank, and was resting 
between McGuire's Crossroads and Adairsville, and he 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

also had tidings that a division of cavalry, supported 
by infantry, was much farther west in the immediate 
vicinity of Eome, and that this column was likely to 
carry the weak forts there by assault, and so swoop up 
his foundries and important mills. Surely things were 
not favorable for a long delay at Adairsville. Unless 
the Confederate commander was prepared to take the 
immediate offensive against Thomas in the morning, 
his army would be before many hours hemmed in on 
every side. No wonder he drew off before such a day 
had dawned. 

Judging by Confederate accounts, I am inclined to 
think that there was no complete report of losses on 
the part of the enemy. Johnston intimates that, as 
they fought mainly behind breastworks at Kesaca, the 
loss of the Confederates, compared with ours, was not 
large. One who was present remarks : " A regiment 
was captured by Howard, and a few vagabond pickets 
were picked up in various places." Another declares 
that, besides the wounded, "prisoners (Confederate) 
at the hour I write, 9 a.m.. May 16th, are being brought 
in by hundreds." On the 18th we were busy destroy- 
ing the Georgia State Arsenal at Adairsville ; we vis- 
ited the wounded that the Confederates had the night 
before left behind, and picked up a few weary strag- 
glers in gray coats. 

All this show of success gave us increased cour- 
age and hope. It should be noticed that our Colonel 
Wright, repairing the railways, was putting down 
new bridges with incredible rapidity. When we were 
back at Dalton his trains with bread, provender, and 
ammunition were already in that little town. By May 
16th, early in the morning, while skirmishing was 
still going on with the rear guard of Johnston, across 


Battle of Resaca and the Oostanaula 

the Oostanaula, the scream of our locomotive's whistle 
was heard behind us at Eesaca. The telegraph, too, 
was never much delayed. Major Van Dusen repaired 
the old broken line, and kept us constantly in com- 
munication with our depots and with Washington, 
and at Adairsville we received word from our com- 
missaries at Eesaca that there was at that subdepot, 
at our call, abundance of coffee, hard bread, and 

Here, we notice, from Tunnel Hill to Adairsville, 
Sherman, in less than ten days, had experienced pretty 
hard fighting, but he had also overcome extraordinary 
natural obstacles which, according to writers in the 
Southern press, had been relied upon as impregnable 
against any enemy's approach, supported and de- 
fended as they were by the brave army of Joe John- 
ston behind them — obstacles such as Tunnel Hill, Tay- 
lor's Ridge, Snake Creek Gap, and the Oostanaula with 
its tributaries. True, the Confederate army was not 
yet much reduced in numbers, yet the spirit of the men, 
though not broken, was unfavorably affected by John- 
ston's constant retreats. 

General Johnston was becoming every day more 
and more conservative and cautious. He continued to 
stand on the defensive ; while under Sherman our more 
numerous men were pressing against his front, and 
moving to the right and left of his army with Napo- 
leonic boldness. 

Thus far we had experienced hardly a check, as, 
like heavy waves, these forces were rolling on toward 
the sea. 

That morning, near Adairsville, in a little nook to 
the right of the road, while we were marching toward 
Kingston, we caught sight of a group of young ladies 



Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

standing on the green; they appeared somewhat ner- 
vous and excited on our approach. 

In a courteous manner I accosted the one who had 
most self-possession, and who had stepped out in front 
of her companions : 

"Young lady, can you tell me whose residence 
this is?" 

She answered curtly : " It belongs to Captain 

"Ah, Captain Howard! That is my name. My 
name is Howard. Perhaps we are connections." 

She replied sharply : " We have no relations what- 
ever North, sir ! " 

I then asked: "Is Captain Howard at home?" 

She replied: "No." 

"Where is he?" 

" Captain Howard is with the Confederate army, 
where he ought to be." 

"Ah, indeed, I am sorry! Where is that army!" 

"I don't know anything about the Confederate 
movements. I told you, sir, that I had no relations 

" Well, then, the blood of all the Howards does not 
flow in your veins." 

At this time, turning to a staff officer, and within 
hearing of the group of young ladies, I remarked, as 
the sound of skirmishing reached our ears : " That 
house will make an excellent field hospital." 

The speaker and her companions were frightened 
at this unexpected reply and ran to the house and ap- 
peared shortly after on the upper porch. Before we 
had left the premises, a middle-aged lady came hastily 
toward me, and besought me not to take her house for 
a hospital. I replied that I had been treated rather 


Battle of Resaca and the Oostanaula 

cavalierly by the young people, and that my courtesy 
met only with rebuff. 

" Oh, sir," she said, " you must not mind those 
girls. They talk flippantly ! " 

Fortunately for the family, there was nothing but 
a slight skirmish in their neighborhood, and the lovely 
house and other buildings near at hand, so prettily en- 
sconced beyond the green in the grove of trees, were 
not used for the dreaded army purpose. 

I have since found that this Georgia family remem- 
bered my visit, and had spoken highly of me, probably 
more highly than I deserved. 

I have lately pleasantly met them at Atlanta. 
Prejudice has given way to time and change. 

After leaving this place we proceeded to Kingston, 
where General Sherman had already established his 
headquarters, and where they were to remain during 
the few days' rest after Johnston's Confederate forces 
had crossed the Etowah. 




T N the forward movement from Adairsville, May 18, 
^ 1864, our three armies were a little mixed. 

One division under the enterprising Jeff. C. 
Davis, with Garrard's cavalry, became detached from 
Thomas and went directly to Rome, and on the 18th 
drove out the small garrison of Confederates there; 
they captured some ten heavy guns, other war mate- 
rial, supplies of all kinds including a trainload of salt, 
and a few prisoners of war. 

Johnston had fully determined to give Sherman 
battle at Cassville. To this end he had selected cer- 
tain well-defined positions, which were most favorable, 
and covered them with the usual temporary intrench- 

Places for artillery were carefully chosen by good 
engineers and artillerists, and epaulements set up for 
proper cover. Strengthened by a small reenforce- 
ment, he located Hardee's corps so as to meet all the 
Army of the Cumberland and of the Tennessee, which 
were likely to approach Cassville from the west or 
from the Kingston route; Polk's command in the cen- 
ter would meet Hooker's corps with sufficient force to 
hold him in check, and have strong enough reserve to 
strengthen Hood, who, on Johnston's extreme right, 
was directed to meet and withstand Schofield's army. 


Battle of Cassville 

With regard to position at this time, Johnston had 
greatly the advantage of his adversary, because his 
troops were concentrated. He could move on inner 
lines. Sherman was coming in upon Cassville, after 
having his four columns greatly separated the one 
from the other. The nature of the country was such 
that it was next to impossible, before actual conjunc- 
tion, for Thomas to send help to Hooker, and worse 
still for McPherson or Thomas to reenforce Schofield 
in a reasonable time. 

But Sherman was so anxious for battle on the more 
favorable ground north of the Etowah, rather than 
upon the ragged country south of it, that he declared 
to his commanders as in his dispatch to Schofield : " If 
we can bring Johnston to battle this side of the Eto- 
wah, we must do it, even at the hazard of beginning 
battle with but part of our forces." 

It is very evident that Johnston hoped to be able 
to dispose of Hooker and Schofield by striking with a 
superior force and crushing them before help could 
come. Johnston's intention to make an " offensive de- 
fensive " battle appears plain from his own language 
and the instructions that he gave. He says in effect 
after consultation with his engineer officer, who was 
questioned over the map in the presence of Polk and 
Hood, who were informed of his object, that he found 
the country on the direct road open and favorable for 
an attack; that the distance between the two Federal 
columns would be greatest when those following the 
railroad reached Kingston. Johnston's chief of artil- 
lery warned him that our artillery, planted on a hill 
a mile off, could enfilade his right. Johnston ordered 
traverses to be constructed, though he declared that 
such artillery firing, more than a half-mile away, could 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

do little harm, seeing that there were many protecting 

My corps, as we already know, followed the wagon 
road nearest the railway, turning to the left of King- 
ston about 8 A.M., May 18, 1864. We had hardly 
passed through this much-scattered hamlet, when skir- 
mishing opened southeast of the place. Pressing back 
the skirmishers, we delayed any positive action till 
about 11 A.M., waiting for other troops to come into 
position, when my command again took up the march. 

Then, shelling the low ground, mostly covered 
with broad patches of thick underbrush and straggling 
trees, we moved slowly forward, forcing back the 
outer lines of the enemy. These obstinate divisions 
retired perforce, skirmishing all the time, to within 
two miles of Cassville; we now, with thick timber all 
around, appeared to be in front of the Cassville Con- 
federate works. 

Hooker's troops had done the same thing as mine, 
but on the direct Adairsville and Cassville road. 

Palmer's corps, off to my right, had at least one 
division (Baird's) deployed. 

About this time a deserter came into our lines and 
reported that Johnston had received reenforcements 
of 6,000 men. Just at this juncture we reckoned his 
forces to be fully 70,000 strong. 

With reference to the Fourth Corps, which I com- 
manded, the journal of Lieutenant Colonel Fullerton, 
my adjutant general, has given an animated account 
of the series of combats which took place between 
Kingston and Cassville : 

"3.50 P.M., advance commenced. . . . The enemy 
was driven by us. We again took up the march in 
column, and again met the enemy one mile beyond 


Battle of Cassville 

his first position at 5.30 p.m. ; 5.40 p.m., General Sher- 
man ordered General Howard to put thirty or forty 
pieces of artillery in position; to form two or three 
brigades in line of battle; then to shell the woods in 
our front vigorously, afterwards, to feel the enemy." 

This was done.. The journal continues: 

" 6.30 P.M., firing ordered to cease and skirmishers 
ordered forward, followed by main lines." 

Here we connected with Palmer's corps on the 
right and Hooker's on the left. 

" Now the line advanced, trying to move to Cass- 
ville; skirmishing very heavy, and progress slow." 

At 7 o'clock, apparently within about one mile 
of Cassville, I halted my command in place, and all 
slept in line of battle that night. The day had been 
warm and clear, but the roads were very dusty. 

In these exchanges of artillery shots ten of our 
men had been killed and thirty-five wounded. 

The whole of Johnston's force was before us in 
Cassville. Johnston meant to strike Hooker before 
we got up. The enemy had strong rifle pits and works, 
and Johnston had published an order to his troops, 
saying that he would make his fight there; this was 
issued the night we arrived. 

That General Johnston did intend and expected to 
make a stand here will be seen from the tenor of this 
order, which was as follows: 

" Soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee : You 
have displayed the highest quality of the soldier — 
firmness in combat, patience under toil. By your 
courage and skill you have repulsed every assault of 
the enemy. By marches by day and by marches by 
night you have defeated every attempt upon your 
communications. Your communications are secured. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

You will now turn and march to meet his advancing 
columns. Fully confiding in the conduct of the offi- 
cers, the courage of the soldiers, I lead you to battle. 
We may confidently trust that the Almighty Father 
will still reward the patriots' toils and bless the pa- 
triots' banners. Cheered by the success of our broth- 
ers in Virginia and beyond the Mississippi, our efforts 
will equal theirs. Strengthened by His support, those 
efforts will be crowned with the like glories." 

McPherson, under Sherman's orders, had also 
turned to the left toward us, and was close in support 
of Thomas's right. 

It was, however, Schofield's cavalry, under Stone- 
man, some horse artillery being with it, that appeared 
off to the right and eastward of Hood's command dur- 
ing May 18th. It was decidedly to our advantage 
that the valiant and indomitable Hood was thus de- 
ceived by a force which dismounted and acted as in- 
fantry. Stoneman deserved special recognition from 
Schofield and Sherman for this good work. 

Captain David B. Conyngham, who was present at 
Cassville as soon as we occupied that village, says 
three men of the Twenty-third Corps entered a house 
and were betrayed to a detachment of Confederate 
cavalry by some of the inmates. They barricaded 
themselves, in the house and resisted several attacks. 
Just as the Confederates were setting fire to the house 
" a squad of Stoneman's cavalry heard the firing and 
hastened to the spot. The Union cavalry attacked 
the besieging party in the rear, soon putting them to 
flight, and so released their friends." Of course, one 
bird does not make a summer, but these three in- 
fantrymen may indicate the presence of more of the 
same sort near the cavalry of Stoneman. 


Battle of Cassville 

With reference to the enfilading, Johnston spoke 
of the bare possibility of our enfilading him with ar- 
tillery. The report of one of my officers, Lieutenant 
White, Bridge's Illinois Battery, says : " At 6 p.m. Gen- 
eral Howard brought this battery, with others, into 
position, from which we were able to fire with raking 
effect upon the flank of the Confederate lines occupy- 
ing Cassville, while their front was facing the attack 
of Hooker," 

This operation took place, as we have before 
seen, the evening of May 19th, and will account for 
some of the serious impressions of Polk, if not of 
Hood, as they were subsequently evinced at their 

This council doubtless indirectly caused Johnston's 
dismissal at Atlanta, and resulted in Hood's accession 
and his series of disasters and his ultimate complete 
discomfiture by Thomas at Nashville. It rendered pos- 
sible the great " March to the Sea," and the more 
troublesome ordeals of the Carolinas, which ended in 
Bentonville and bore no small weight upon the opera- 
tions in Virginia — those operations which closed the 
war. The details of that council show that Hood, be- 
lieving his right flank hopelessly turned, had shown 
Johnston that his position at Cassville was absolutely 
untenable. Here is Johnston's account: 

" On reaching my tent, soon after dark, I found in 
it an invitation to meet the lieutenant generals at Gen- 
eral Polk's quarters. General Hood was with him, 
but not General Hardee. The two officers. General 
Hood taking the lead, expressed the opinion very posi- 
tively that neither of their corps would be able to hold 
its position next day, because, they said, a part of each 
w?s enfiladed by Federal artillery. The part of Gen- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

eral Polk's corps referred to was that of which I had 
conversed with Brigadier General Shoup. On that 
account they urged me to abandon the ground immedi- 
ately and cross the Etowah. 

" A discussion of more than an hour followed, in 
which they very earnestly and decidedly expressed 
the opinion, or conviction rather, that when the Fed- 
eral artillery opened upon them next day, it would 
render their positions untenable in an hour or 

Hardee's note is of interest. He wrote : 

"At Cassville, May 19th, about ten o'clock in the 
evening, in answer to a summons from General John- 
ston, I found him at General Polk's headquarters, in 
company with Generals Polk and Hood. He informed 
me that it was determined to retire across the Etowah. 
In reply to my exclamation of surprise. General Hood, 
anticipating him, answered : ' General Polk, if at- 
tacked, cannot hold his position three-quarters of an 
hour, and I cannot hold mine two hours.' " 

The results of this remarkable council appear in 
Johnston's concise statement which follows : " Al- 
though the position was the best we had occupied, I 
yielded at last, in the belief that the confidence of the 
commanders of two or three corps of the army of their 
inability to resist the enemy would inevitably be com- 
municated to their troops, and produce that inability. 

" Lieutenant General Hardee, who arrived after 
this decision, remonstrated against it strongly, and 
was confident that his corps could hold its ground, al- 
though less favorably posted. The error was adhered 
to, however, and the position abandoned before day- 

In the fearful skirmishes which took place on 


Battle of Cassville 

May 19th in the rough woodland between Kingston 
and Cassville, Kingston served as a field hospital. 

Small tents were erected for the wounded, and for 
the many others who fell sick. 

It is gratifying to think these comrades had double 
care from the faithful hospital attendants and from 
the Christian Commission. The delegate of the Com- 
mission would sit by the bedside of a young man and 
act as amanuensis ; so that a last message, too sacred 
for publication, often found its way to a sorrowing 
household beyond the scenes of war. 

The second day after Johnston's departure from 
Cassville and Carter sville, Georgia (May 22, 1864), 
was Sunday. Sherman had his headquarters, for rail- 
way convenience and to be accessible to all his com- 
manders, at the village of Kingston. General Corse 
was at the time his chief of staff. Sherman and he 
occupied a small cottage on the south side of the main 

While Sherman sat at the window, apparently in 
a deep study, occasionally transferring his thoughts 
to paper, he was interrupted by the sudden and then 
the continued ringing of the church bell. Thinking 
that some fun-loving soldiers or some of the already 
enterprising " bummers " were practicing with the 
bell, perhaps with a view to his annoyance, he told 
Corse to send over a patrol and arrest the bell ringers. 
My friend, Eev. E. P. Smith, representing the Chris- 
tian Commission, had gone to the church and prepared 
it for service. Not being able just then to get anyone 
to help him, he was obliged to climb up to ring the 
bell, the rope having disappeared. As he dropped 
down he caught the bottom of his trousers and slit 
them to his waist. Just then a corporal with a file of 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

nien opened the church door and said to him : " Fall 

My friend said: "What for?" 

The corporal answered : " To take you over there 
to General Sherman's headquarters." 

Smith pleaded : " Can't go in this plight ; take me 
where I can fix up." 

Corporal answered : " Them's not the orders — fall 

Corse, standing by the back door, received him and 

" You were ringing that bell ? " 

" Yes, it is Sunday and I was ringing it for 

Corse dismissed the guard and, as he stood in the 
doorway, he reported the ease to Sherman, who 
stopped his work for an instant, looked up at Corse's 
face, and glanced over toward Mr. Smith as Corse 

" It is Sunday and he was ringing the bell for 

Sherman answered : " Sunday, Sunday ! Didn't 
know it was Sunday; let him go." 

That morning we had a church well filled with 
soldiers. I was present and enjoyed immensely the 
religious service conducted by my friend. 

It was at my camp near Cassville that Sherman 
came to my aid in an unexpected way. It will be re- 
membered how I had taken a radical stand with regard 
to strong drink, believing and insisting then, as I do 
now, that the poison of alcohol used as a drink is not 
only injurious to the mental and moral life of a sol- 
dier, but that, though it may be a spur in an emergency 
for an attack, it is always attended with so speedy 



Battle of Cassville 

a reaction as to be detrimental to steady and persist- 
ent garrison or field work. Of course, I abstained 
from alcoholic drinks. This conduct naturally sub- 
jected me to constant remark by those who thought 
me extreme; and many were the criticisms promul- 
gated at my expense. 

A number of officers were having a chat in groups 
about my bivouac at Cassville on the morning of May 
21st, when, it being about refreshment time, some offi- 
cer proposed that the whole party go over to his tent, 
and have a drink all around. 

General Thomas John Wood, one of my division 
commanders, eminent in war, undertook to rally me 
on my oddities and exclusiveness. He wound up by 
saying: "What's the use, Howard, of your being so 
singular? Come along and have a good time with the 
rest of us. Why not?" 

Sherman interposed with some severity, saying: 
"Wood, let Howard alone! I want one officer who 
don't drink!" 

There is a letter which I wrote from that Cassville 
camp, which, coming back to me, has in it some new 
items : 

Near Cassville, May 22d, 1864. 

... I haven't written you for several days, and am not 
sure about this letter getting back, but will try and send it. 

Charles (then Lieutenant, Colonel Charles H. Howard), 
Gilbreth (Lieutenant Gilbreth, aid-de-camp), Stinson (Mr. 
Blaine's nephew, captain and aid-de-camp), Frank (my 
secretary, Frank G. Gilman, of Boston), and myself are all well. 

Instead of three days we have had some twelve or thirteen 
days' fighting. It is not always engaging our main lines, but 
heavy skirmishing. The Confederates have a rear guard 
of cavalry supported by infantry. They arrange barricades 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

of rails and logs along the line. When driven from one, another 
force has another barricade ready some half or three-quarters 
of a mile on. In this way they manage to check and hinder our 

We have driven them across the Etowah, and are now resting 
and collecting supplies for further progress. You will possibly 
see accounts of our operations in the newspapers. We have 
had to charge or turn well-constructed breastworks, and at 
times the fighting has been severe. General Willich and 
Colonel (now General) Harker in our corps were wounded. 
We had quite a battle at Dalton, at Resaca, then at Adairsville, 
and lastly here, near Cassville. 

A kind Providence has protected me and my staff in the 
midst of constant dangers. We have been fired upon by sharp- 
shooters, small arms and artillery. Two or three have had 
their horses shot, and I had one bullet through my coat, but 
none of us have received any harm. 

We are preparing for a march, and if you don't get a 
letter you must not think it strange, for communication may 
be much interrupted. I long to get this work done that I may 
return to you all, if God is willing. I do feel as though my 
work was not yet done, but we ought always be ready. . . . 

The country this side of Resaca is very beautiful. Large, 
luxuriant farms, magnificent trees. It is no wonder our 
enemies are not starving in such a country as this. This is 
a pleasing change of scenery from the mountains near 
Chattanooga, and really of great practical benefit to the 
horses and mules; plenty of grass to eat. The people have 
nearly all gone away. . . . 

God bless and keep you. . . . 

How much we owed to our transportation! That 
well-organized railway performed wonders. 

Before our three days' rest at Cassville was over, 
the railway that our enemy had destroyed had been 
constructed as far as Sherman's headquarters at 


Battle of Cassville 

Kingston, and not only supplies of all kinds were giv- 
ing the men refreshment, but letters from home were 
flooding our camps; for the mail service was keeping 
abreast of that of the road builders. 

Home news and home cheer gave our hearts new 
courage and energy for additional trial and enterprise. 

The forward march cut us off from communica- 
tion, which, as I mentioned in my letter, was to begin 
May 24th. It required twenty days' supplies. We 
were to veer to the southwest and endeavor to turn 
Johnston's left flank. We must impede ourselves as 
little as possible with wagons, so as to move with 
celerity and strike quick blows. In the three days of 
rest, there was not much real resting. It was a busy 
command throughout. We hadn't much luggage before 
the halt, but, as Wood said, " We razeed still more." 
We distributed the food and rations, reorganized some 
commands, selected garrisons for Cartersville and 
Eome, and, in brief, stripped ourselves of all surplus- 
age, and reequipped every department for crossing 
the Etowah — that small stream just ahead of Scho- 
field's head of column near the Allatoona Bridge, and 
within sight of other portions of the army from Alla- 
toona to Rome, thirty miles west. The Confederate 
commander had not been idle. As always, " Joe " 
Johnston had instinctively apprehended just what our 
Sherman was planning as Sherman sat by the window 
at Kingston, " drumming with his pencil upon the 
window sill and thinking." 

The decision, impatiently made by Johnston after 
the council with Hood and Polk on the night of May 
19th, to retire behind the Etowah River, though con- 
ceived in vexation, was followed by prompt action. 
His army, led from the Cassville line straight to the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Etowah, crossed that river in some haste near the 
railroad bridge. 

After the crossing, and during the afternoon, the 
bridges, including the railroad structure, were dis- 
abled by fire. 

On the night of the 20th Johnston had established 
his headquarters in citizen Moore's house, at which 
point Hardee also had his. This house was near the 
point where the railroad intersected the Allatoona 
wagon road, and about a mile and a half from Alla- 
toona. The Confederate commanders remained there 
during May 21st and 22d. 

Johnston, having passed the Etowah, disposed his 
army somewhat as follows : Facing northward, and 
occupying a rocky ridge south of that river, appeared 
his front line. On his right he placed the famous 
Wheeler, with his swift-footed cavalry in observation; 
on his left, General Jackson with his cavalry. The 
bulk of the Confederate army was to the rear, in 
and about Allatoona, concentrated, and ready for a 
sudden move. 

On the 21st Johnston's extra supply trains were 
farther off, south of the Chattahoochee, while other 
wagon trains were collected nearer at hand, south of 
Allatoona, in the open country. 

In addition to guarding the Etowah in his imme- 
diate front and his flanks, as we have hinted, John- 
ston placed an extended picket line along a tributary 
of the Etowah — Pumpkin Vine Creek. This positively 
indicates that as early as May 21st or 22d he at 
least suspected just the movement westward which 
Sherman was considering. Johnston was, indeed, as 
was usual with him, holding his entire army in obser- 
vation, while Sherman was preparing to move to the 


Battle of Cassville 

westward, so as to at least turn Allatoona. The 
Etowah, in Johnston's front, it is true, concealed to 
some extent Sherman's movements, so that it was diffi- 
cult for the Confederate commander to keep the na- 
tional forces under the close observation which the 
situation from his standpoint required; therefore, 
Johnston was continually probing and feeling for the 
movements of his adversary. For example, on May 
22d he ordered Wheeler to cross back with his cav- 
alry five or six miles to his (Wheeler's) right, and to 
push on toward Cassville, with a view to gathering 
reliable information. There were so many contradic- 
tory stories ! Wheeler managed somehow to get over 
the river, marched rapidly to Cassville, and here, on 
May 24th, seized a wagon train carelessly left behind, 
the last of Sherman's supply. 

The important fact was that Wheeler brought back 
the information he was after. He reported that Sher- 
man's army was in rapid march, and he showed to 
Johnston the direction it had taken. Wheeler's re- 
port that the Union forces were moving westward, 
as if to cross the Etowah at Kingston, had been an- 
ticipated by Confederate Jackson's cavalry; while 
Wheeler was marching toward Cassville, Jackson, 
with his cavalry, on the Confederate left, had discov- 
ered Sherman's march toward the bridges laid near 
Stilesboro, and had seen Union forces already cross- 
ing the river there. This news came promptly by 
signals the morning of the 23d. Surely Allatoona 
was to be turned, and not attacked in front as John- 
ston had greatly hoped. 

On the receipt of these tidings, he grasped the en- 
tire situation. Swiftly and energetically he made his 
dispositions to meet Sherman's new moves. In fact, 


Autobiograj)hy of Gen. O. O. Howard 

on the 23d, before Wheeler's return, he had ordered 
Hardee to march at once by New Hope Church to the 
road leading from Stilesboro through Dallas to At- 
lanta. Polk was directed to go to the same road by 
a route farther to the left, and Hood was to follow, 
Hardee's march the day following. 

By the 25th, Sherman's army, still in motion, was 
pushed southward toward New Hope and Dallas. Mc- 
Pherson's army, increased by Davis's division, com- 
ing from Eome, was well to the right, near Van Wert. 
From here Davis took an eastern country road and 
joined Thomas, who kept the main road as far as 
Burnt Hickory, passing through a strange land, a 
country desolate and uninhabited. It seemed like for- 
ests burned over, with here and there an opening. 
There were innumerable knolls of light soil, dotted 
with half-burned trees, almost without limbs, every 
shape and size. 

The march from the Etowah was a sad and gloomy 
one, possibly ominous. At Burnt Hickory, Thomas 
sent Palmer with his and me with my corps off toward 
the right to catch somewhere the Van Wert and New 
Hope road, while Hooker went on straight toward 
the same destination by the main highway, using wood 
and farm roads as far as he could to help forward 
his divisions. Ed. McCook's cavalry was a little in 
advance of Hooker, well spread out. 

Schofield, farther to the left, with his cavalry un- 
der Stoneman cared for the left flank, and moved 
southward more slowly. 

Garrard, on the right, with his troops of cavalry, 
had pressed back the Confederate horse toward Dal- 
las, and discovered the left of Johnston's new line; 
Garrard kept within easy reach of McPherson. 


Battle of Cassville 

It was a terrible country, as hard to penetrate 
as the Adirondacks, where Johnston chose his posi- 
tion. Hardee was put at Dallas, Hood at New Hope, 
and Polk between them, nearer to Hood than Hardee, 
causing some thin lines. 

Yes, there was here great natural strength like that 
of Gulp's Hill at Gettysburg and worse than any of the 
Antietam banks ; and every hour made and increased 
the log barricades and earth embankments covered 
and concealed by abatis and slashings. Johnston's 
commanders were never better prepared for a defen- 
sive battle than on our steady approach in strong 

Personally, I would have been glad then to have 
known that rough, blind country and our enemy's posi- 
tion as well as we all do now. 

The character of the country traversed, and the 
rapidity with which our army moved, gave strong in- 
dication of its excellent morale and of its physical 
strength. Abundant was its confidence in itself — a 
confidence born of its prowess in the bloody encounters 
of the campaign thus far. 

The Confederates were also confident as they pre- 
pared for another stand, here in a dense forest, and 
there in broken ground, while they were deployed 
along the new front. 

Johnston's army had had the same advantage of 
rest that we had, and from the fearless and obstinate 
stand made so soon after the depressing effects of the 
retrograde movement and our successes, it would seem 
as if its spirit was equal to any emergency. 

Part of Hood's front was, by the time the Yankees 
came, even better prepared than the rest. We knew 
from past experience that now it did not take the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Yankee or Confederate very long to thoroughly cover 
himself by some sort of barricade or intrenchment. 
Notwithstanding all this, a few commands had little 
protection when the battle began, those especially who 
came out to meet us as far as the famous Pumpkin 
Vine Creek. 

On the morning of the 25th Ed. McCook's cavalry, 
in front of Burnt Hickory, had ventured beyond that 
creek and captured a dispatch from Johnston to Jack- 
son. This informed Sherman that some Confederate 
troops were still in motion toward Dallas. This news 
led Sherman to hold back his left for a short time, till 
the army of the Tennessee could come well forward 
on the right. 

All the columns were thus making a partial wheel, 
so as to arrive substantially parallel with Pumpkin 
Vine Creek. Hooker kept advancing his three col- 
umns along or not far from the direct Dallas road. 
The two corps. Palmer's and mine, had made a consid- 
erable detour that morning, hoping to reach the Van 
Wert-Dallas road about three or four miles from Dal- 
las. The skirmishing had begun. When Geary's 
division (Hooker's center) had come forward and 
was near Owen's Mills, he found the enemy's cavalry 
engaged in burning the bridge which crossed Pump- 
kin Vine Creek. Geary, with Hooker's escorting cav- 
alry and infantry, drove the hostile cavalry off, extin- 
guished the fire, and crossed his command. Hooker 
now began to believe that the enemy held his strongest 
force near New Hope Church, and so he ordered Geary 
to take the fork of the road leading that way. 

Pressing on, on the top of a rising ground, Hooker 
first encountered the infantry of Hood. Here our 
men met a stubborn resistance. Geary had to 


Battle of Cassville 

strengthen and greatly extend his line, and, as Geary 
was apt to think, he believed that he was dealing with 
a much larger force than that actually before him. 
The combat that suddenly came on was sharp and 
lasted half an hour. There were brave charges by 
Geary's men, and fierce countercharges by the Con- 
federates, which were repulsed by Candy's Union bri- 
gade, that had been deployed. Our men finally made 
a steady advance till they stood upon another ridge 
opposite that on which Hood had aligned his forces. 
Geary had at last driven the advance back. Geary, 
as was customary with us all, made hastily such shel- 
ter as he could for his troops, using logs for tem- 
porary cover, behind which he might with comparative 
safety await the Confederates' further development. 

As soon as Sherman heard the firing he hastened 
to the front. He ordered Hooker to bring his two 
remaining divisions, Williams's and Butterfield's, 
promptly into position. He declared that an attack 
by Hooker should be made at once. By this Sherman 
undoubtedly wished to develop the force in his imme- 
diate front before darkness set in. The time of the 
approach of the new forces is somewhat in question. 
Thomas reported their arrival as 3 p.m., but Geary 
about 5 P.M. Thomas probably referred to heads of 
column and Geary to the complete arrival. 

At any rate, the whole corps was assembled by the 
latter hour. Hooker used it as at Eesaca, by deploy- 
ing it into heavy columns of brigades, and then moved 
almost en masse with a narrow front to the attack. 
It was a shock; a quick attack made through a wood, 
greatly obstructed by a dense undergrowth. This 
bothersome timber generally covered the slopes on 
either side of the valley. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

Hardly had Hooker's advance struck the obstruc- 
tions when not only the iron hail but a rainstorm with 
terrific thunder broke upon the contending forces. 
The loud, crashing noise of the thunder did not, how- 
ever, drown the rattle of musketry and roar of cannon. 
Through all the dreadful tempest the loud and omi- 
nous sounds of battle penetrated to the columns 
marching from the rear. They resounded even as far 
back as Burnt Hickory, and told of the phenomenal 
conflict raging in front. Soon after the thunder a 
most abundant deluge of rain followed, which contin- 
ued falling all through that long night. From 5 p.m. 
until 6 the attempts to force Hood's line were several 
times made by Hooker's corps alone. By the latter 
hour one division of my Fourth corps, moving au can- 
non, was brought up to Hooker's support. The entire 
corps through rain and mud was coming forward as 
fast as it could to Hooker's left, and getting into posi- 
tion as soon as possible; the leading division (New- 
ton's) arrived first, and the rest of the command, 
somewhat delayed by the mass of Hooker's wagons 
stretched along the roads, fetched in at last. All 
that evening and far into the night we assaulted 
Hood's works again and again; we tried amid the 
storm to dislodge his troops, but in vain. In the face 
of sixteen Confederate pieces of artillery using canis- 
ter and grape, and the musketry of several thousand 
infantry at close range and delivered, much of it, from 
behind breastworks, it became simply impossible even 
to gain a foothold anywhere upon the enemy's barri- 

I was near the head of my column, and so came 
up to Hooker before six o'clock. At his request, before 
I saw General Thomas, I deployed one division, ac- 


Battle of Cassville 

cording to Hooker's desire, near his left, and abreast 
of his troops. The firing from the enemy's cannon 
along the line and the constant discharges of the Con- 
federate rifles wounded or killed some of Hooker's 
men and mine at every discharge. In spite of the 
danger, however, camp fires soon began to appear 
here and there as the darkness came on. These still 
more drew the enemy's artillery fire, and for some 
time increased the danger. Still, the chill of the night 
and the wet clothing called for fires. At last there 
was a lull in the battle, though not an entire cessation 
from cannon and rifle firing. Then you could see the 
torches borne by ambulance parties as they went 
hither and thither, picking up the wounded and bear- 
ing them to the rear. As soon as I could get my sev- 
eral commands in hand and arrange for the reliefs 
of working parties along our exposed front, I went 
back a short distance to the little church, which was 
used for a hospital. The scene in the grove there and 
in the church can never be forgotten. There were 
temporary operating tables with men stretched upon 
them; there were diligent medical officers, with their 
attendants and medical helpers, with coats off and 
sleeves rolled up, and hands and arms, clothes and 
faces sprinkled with blood. The lights outside and 
in were fitful and uncertain; smoky lights, for the 
most part, from torches of pine knots. It was a weird, 
horrid picture, and the very heavens seemed to be in 
sympathy with the apparent confusion. It was hard 
to distinguish between the crashing of the thunder, the 
sound of the cannon, and the bursting of shells. The 
rain never ceased to pour during the night. At one 
time, as I went out, I met General Schofield, who, in 
spite of a severe injury to his leg, caused by the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

stiunblmg of his horse against a tree, had come to 
offer Hooker and me his assistance. As I now look 
back upon the whole affair at New Hope Church, I 
wonder that we did not approach those well-chosen 
Confederate lines with more caution. But we did not 
know. We thought that the Confederates were not 
yet thoroughly prepared, and we hoped that by a tre- 
mendous onslaught we might gain a great advantage, 
shorten the battle, and so shorten the war. 

I am glad that military knowledge now insists on 
thinner lines. Brigade line following brigade line 
produced awful results. There a single bullet would 
often kill or wound six men, on account of the depth 
of such a column of brigades ; and who can tell the de- 
struction of a single cannon shot or shell in bursting, 
whose fragments, fan shaped, went sweeping through 
every rank from front to rear ! 

To us military folk it is interesting to note the ad- 
vantage of thin lines, when soldiers are well trained 
and well handled. 

As must have been noticed in all these accounts 
of combats during the series of marches and battles, 
the skirmishers were more and more used as the cam- 
paign progressed. It was always, when taking the 
offensive, a wise thing to do, to increase the skirmish 
line enough to give the men confidence, and then push 
forward till a waiting enemy — one in defensive posi- 
tion — ^was sufficiently revealed to enable the com-i 
mander to determine his next order. On the defen- 
sive, a skirmish line well out, and admirably located, 
would bother an approaching foe as much as a battle 
line, and at the same time lose but few lives. The 
breech-loading arms and magazine guns now make thin 
exposed lines an imperative necessity. Our double 


Battle of Cassville 

skirmish order has indeed become a veritable line of 

By vigorous skirmishing, putting batteries in place 
and into action and constant threats of advance, the 
Confederates were kept all the night, like ourselves, 
on the watch. 

By morning not a few but many logs were piled up 
in barricades, and as much dirt as possible thrown be- 
yond them. Neither of us had a " stomach " for at- 
tack or for battle at that time. Hood and Hooker 
were willing to wait. 




rpHAT was a stubborn fight at New Hope Church 
-^ on May 25, 1864. Hooker's corps, as we have 
seen, supported by the greater part of my corps, en- 
deavored to break Johnston's line near its center. 
Sherman had hoped to seize the railroad south of Al- 
latoona Pass, toward Marietta, and hold it; but he 
found the works in his front too strong. His enemies 
had ample time during their resting days and in the 
night after Hooker's bold charges to make these lines 
next to impregnable. It therefore became necessary 
to adopt some other means of gaining the end in view. 
Johnston's forces extended nearly parallel to ours 
between four and five miles, from near Dallas on his 
left to the vicinity of Pickett's Mill on his right. 

Sherman, after this last bloody battle, returned 
again to his tactics of moving by the flank; the next 
movement contemplated was to gain ground toward 
our left. 

Thomas and Schofield, with the majority of their 
troops, were engaged in completing their deployments 
extending from McPherson, near Dallas, toward John- 
ston's right, and this unfolding brought us steadily 
nearer to the railroad at Ackworth. The marching of 
all moving columns had to be in rear of our front line, 
which was at all times in close contact with the enemy 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

— so close, in fact, that there was a continual skirmish 
fire kept up. 

Johnston seemed to discern the nature of this new 
plan of ours as soon as it was undertaken. He firmly 
believed that Sherman was feeling for his right. He 
therefore withdrew Polk, who was located at his 
center, and marched him parallel to those of us who 
took up the movement, always keeping time and pace 
with our march to the left. Then began and continued 
for a considerable time a race of breastworks and 

The race of trenches was well on by May 27th. 
In accordance with the plan of our leader, one divi- 
sion of my corps, Wood's, and one of the Fourteenth, 
E. W. Johnson's, were drawn back from the fighting 
line, and early on the morning of the 27th started on 
their leftward march. These two divisions consti- 
tuted a detachment, and I was sent in command. 

All day we plodded along pretty far back, but 
within sound of the skirmish firing of the front line. 
The march was over rough and poor roads, when we 
had any roads at all. The way at times was almost 
impassable, for the " mud forests " closed us in on 
either side, and the underbrush shut off all distant 
objects. On we marched till 4.30 in the afternoon, 
when we reached the vicinity of Pickett's Mill. 

Our march, necessarily somewhat circuitous, had 
during the day been often delayed for the purpose 
of reconnoitering. Wood would send his advance to 
skirmish up quietly toward the supposed Confederate 
lines, and when near enough, officers with their field 
glasses would make as close observations as the nature 
of the thickets or more open fields would permit. 

At this time, nearly an hour before the final halt 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

and the direct preparation for a charge, I was stand- 
ing in the edge of a wood, and with my glass following 
along the lines of Johnston, to see where the batteries 
were located and to ascertain if we had reached his 
limits. My aid. Captain Harry M. Stinson, stepped 
boldly into the opening. He had a new field glass, and 
here was an excellent opportunity to try it. I had 
warned him and the other officers of my staff against 
the danger of exposure, for we were not more than 700 
yards from the hostile intrenchments. 

Stinson had hardly raised his glass to his fore- 
head when a bullet struck him. He fell to the ground 
upon his face, and as I turned toward him I saw that 
there was a bullet hole through the back of his coat. 
The missile had penetrated his lungs and made its way 
entirely through his body. I thought at first that my 
brave young friend was dead, and intense grief seized 
my heart, for Harry was much beloved. 

After a few minutes, however, by means of some 
stimulant, he revived and recovered consciousness. 
He was taken back to camp, and soon sent to Cleve- 
land, Tenn., where good air and good nursing brought 
him so near to recovery that he joined me again 
during this campaign at Jonesboro. " I think Harry 
Stinson was the most unselfish man I ever saw," was 
the remark of another of my aids. Captain J. A. 

Wood's division was at last drawn out of the 
marching column and formed in lines of brigades fac- 
ing the enemy's works, one behind the other; while 
E. W. Jolinson's division passed beyond Wood's and 
came up near his left for support. This was far be-l 
yond Schofield's left. Wood touched a large clear-j 
ing, turned to the southeast, and moved forward, 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

keeping in the edge of the clearing, toward what 
would be the natural extension of Johnston's lines. 

Pushing quickly through the undergrowth, Wood 
rectified his formation. Coming to me about 5.30 p.m., 
he said: 

" Are the orders still to attack? " 

Fully believing, from a careful study of the whole 
position, that we had at last reached the end of John- 
ston's troops, I answered: 


The order was promptly obeyed. The men sprang 
forward and made charges and a vigorous as- 

I found Johnston's front covered by strong in- 
trenchments. A drawing back of the trenches like a 
traverse had deceived us. Johnston had forestalled 
us, and was on hand fully prepared. In the first des- 
perate charge, Hazen's brigade was in front. E. W. 
Johnson's division was in echelon with Wood's, some- 
what to its left. Scribner's brigade was in that front. 
The plan had been, though not carried out, that Mc- 
Lean's brigade of Schofield's command, which was 
the intended support on our right, should show it- 
self clearly on open ground, attract the attention of 
the enemy to that part of the line, while Wood and 
Johnson moved upon what was supposed to be the 
extreme right of the Confederates' position. 

In this conflict Wood, the division commander, 
during this gloomy day met with a loss similar to 
mine. An officer, Major J. B. Hampson, One Hundred 
and Sixty-fourth Ohio, aid to General Wood, to whom 
he was personally greatly attached, was struck in his 
left shoulder by a musket ball, which broke the spine 
and ended his life in a few hours. He was a general 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

favorite, and his death produced unfeigned sadness 
among his comrades. 

"Wood had always seemed to me masterful of him- 
self and others who came in contact with him ; he had 
a large experience in such battles as Stone Eiver and 
Chickamauga. I was therefore unprepared to see him 
on this occasion exhibit stronger feeling than any of 
us. For a few minutes, sitting beside his dying 
friend, he was completely overcome. It has appeared 
to me at times that the horrors of the battlefield had 
hardened men; but these cases of exceptional affec- 
tion served to confirm the expression : " The bravest 
are the tenderest ! " 

When the advance was made, our men pushed 
rapidly forward, driving the opposing skirmishers be- 
fore them. As Hazen pressed on, the left of his bri- 
gade still seemed to overlap his enemy's right, and 
everything appeared to indicate that our tedious 
march was to conduct us to a great success. But, 
while Hazen and the remainder of Wood's division 
were gaining ground, Johnson's division, which was 
at Hazen's left, was going on toward Pickett's Mill. 
This was situated on a branch of the Pumpkin Vine 
Creek. Here the leading brigade received quite a 
severe fire against its left flank, and was compelled 
to face in the new direction, and so stopped the whole 
division from moving up abreast of Hazen. This 
halting and change left Wood's division completely un- 
covered, and, worse still, Wood was now brought be- 
tween a front and flank fire. It did not take long to 
discover that what we had supposed was the end of 
the Confederate intrenched line was simply a sharp 
angle of it. The breastworks where Hazen's devoted 
men first struck them were only trending to the Con- 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

federate rear. Wood's men were badly repulsed; he 
had in a few minutes over 800 killed. 

While this attack was going on, Newton's and Stan- 
ley's divisions of my corps near New Hope Church 
were attempting to divert attention by a strong dem- 
onstration, but the Confederates there behind their 
barricades did not heed such distant demonstrations. 
The whole engagement, an hour long, was terrible. 
Our men in this assault showed phenomenal courage, 
and while we were not successful in our attempt to 
turn the enemy's left, which, as a matter of fact, we 
had not yet found, nevertheless considerable new 
space was gained, and what we held was of great im- 
portance. As soon as Wood's division had started, 
the enemy shelled our position. A shell after strik- 
ing the ground to my left threw the fragments in 
different directions. One of these struck my left foot 
as I was walking forward. It cut through the sole 
of my boot and through the up-leather and badly 
bruised me. My foot was evidently lifted in walk- 
ing — but the boot sole was very thick and somewhat 
protruded and so saved me from a severer wound. 
For the instant I believed I had lost my leg, and was 
glad, indeed, to find myself mistaken. There, wounded, 
I sat among the maimed till after midnight; mean- 
while I was reorganizing broken lines and building 
forts and lines of obstruction. 

During the war a few sad scenes impressed me 
more than any others. One was the field after the 
battle of Antietam. A second scene was the battle- 
field of Gettysburg. But these things, not happy to re- 
late, were matched at Pickett's Mill. That opening 
in the forest, faint fires here and there revealing 
men wounded, armless, legless, or eyeless; some with 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

heads bound up with cotton strips, some standing and 
walking nervously around, some sitting with bended 
forms, and some prone upon the earth — who can pic- 
ture it? A few men, in despair, had resorted to drink 
for relief. The sad sounds from those in pain were 
mingled with the oaths of the drunken and the more 

I could not leave the place, for Colonel C. H. How- 
ard and Captain Gilbreth, aids, and other officers 
were coming and going to carry out necessary meas- 
ures to rectify our lines and to be ready for a counter 
attack of the Confederates, almost sure to be made at 

So, for once, painfully hurt myself, I remained 
there from 8 p.m. to participate in that distress till 
about one o'clock the next morning. That night will 
always be a sort of nightmare to me. I think no per- 
dition here or hereafter can be worse. 

Is it not an argument in favor of every possible 
arbitration? After our tedious night's work, my for- 
tifying in the enemy's front had rendered an attack at 
daylight by Johnston useless. 

The character of the country gave us more open- 
ings in the forests on all approaches to Dallas than at 
New Hope or Pickett's Mill. Still, the greater part 
of the Confederate front was strung along threading a 
rugged forest country, with excellent positions for 
artillery, and rough ridges which were easily forti- 
fied and hard to take. 

Hardee, at Dallas, had in his vicinity a "grand 
military position," which it would do a West Pointer 
good to survey — ^well chosen, well manned by the best 
of troops thoroughly seasoned in war. 

McPherson, opposite Hardee, had just now not more 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

than 20,000 men, for Blair's troops, marching at the 
time from the Far West, had not yet joined him. But 
Davis's division of the Fourteenth Corps (about 
5,000 men) was sent back by Sherman to strengthen 
McPherson's command, because McPherson was so 
widely separated from the rest of us. 

From Van Wert, McPherson had hastened on, with 
Dodge's corps in the lead. Dodge never said much in 
advance of what he proposed to do, but he was a most 
vigorous commander and inspired the men who served 
under him with his own energy. Well protected by 
skirmishers, he now approached the Pumpkin Vine 
Creek, and encountered the enemy's skirmishers and 
advance guards and drove them steadily back. 

During May 25th, while Thomas was assailing 
Hood at New Hope Church, Jeff. C. Davis, prompt, 
systematic, and active, extended and thoroughly pro- 
tected Dodge's left at Dallas. Meanwhile, John A. 
Logan, commanding the Fifteenth Corps, had taken 
on the inspiration of fighting — like a horse just ready 
for battle — and was veering off to the right of Dodge. 

On Logan's right, clearing the way, and, like the 
cavalry opposite, securing all approaches and occupy- 
ing as much attention as possible, was Garrard's cav- 
alry command. 

Logan was intensely active on the approach of 
battle. His habitual conservatism in council was 
changed into brightness, accompanied with energetic 
and persistent activity. 

Dodge, as he left him, was moving along in a col- 
umn, and the cavalry, assisted by Logan's artillery, 
were noisily driving in the enemy's light troops far 
off to the right beyond the crossroads at Dallas. 

Logan's and Dodge's advance, substantially two 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

iieavy skirmish lines acting conjointly, with some ar- 
tillery protected by cavalry, drove everything before 
them for about two miles. 

While the battle of Pickett's Mill was fiercely going 
on, both Logan and Bate kept up between them ar- 
tillery firing and skirmishing. In the afternoon of 
that day a stronger demonstration was made by the 
Confederate General Bate. This demonstration was 
promptly checked by Dodge crossing Pumpkin Vine 
Creek, and pushing forward until he had cleared his 
entire front up to Hardee's works. From that time on 
there was no peace between those opposing lines, for 
skirmishers and artillery were busy and noisy all the 
time on both sides. 

In his general movement to the left, Sherman had 
ordered McPherson to relieve Davis and send him 
back to Thomas, and McPherson was preparing to do 
so and to close his army in to the left, when he sent 
the following dispatch to Sherman : 

" We have forced the enemy back to his breast- 
works throughout nearly the whole extent of his lines, 
and find him occupying a strong position, extending 
apparently from the North Marietta or New Hope 
Church road to across the Villa Eica road; our lines 
are up within close musket range in many places, and 
the enemy appears to be massing on our right." 

It will thus be seen that McPherson was loyally 
preparing to carry out his instructions, and was, in- 
deed, ready to do so with his usual skill and prompt- 
ness, when Hardee's dispositions warned him of his 
danger in uncovering his flank and of making the 
movement in the face of an active and energetic 
enemy. Hardee was pressing his lines constantly, 
probably in anticipation of just such a movement. 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

The battle began at 3.30 p.m. The attacking col- 
nmn of the Confederates had been able to form out 
of sight in the woods for the most part ; those in front 
of Oosterhaus's division (of Logan) gathered under 
shelter of a deep ravine, and then rushed en masse to 
within fifty yards of his line, where they were mowed 
down by the hundred. 

The Sixteenth Corps (Dodge's) had also a consid- 
erable part in this battle. Walker's Confederate di- 
vision had found its way at first, with the design of a 
demonstration only, quite up to the well-prepared 
barricades of Dodge. 

This assault, though most desperate and deter- 
mined, was promptly and gallantly met and repulsed. 

The other Confederate division (Cheatham's) op- 
posite Davis simply strengthened its skirmish line 
and pushed it forward briskly and persistently in 
front of Davis's gallant men, resulting, of course, in 
some losses on both sides. These vigorous efforts 
of Walker and Cheatham had the effect, as Hardee in- 
tended, namely, to keep Dodge and Davis in place and 
prevent them from reenforcing Logan. 

Within an hour and a half the attack upon the 
whole right had proven a costly failure to the enemy, 
and his lines had been hurriedly withdrawn to the 
earthworks from whence they had sallied forth. Har- 
dee in this combat left many of his wounded and slain 
to us to care for. 

It will be noticed that my battle of May 27th at 
Pickett's Mill was a determined assault of one division 
supported by another against Johnston's right flank, 
and that the battle of Dallas, whether by General 
Johnston's orders or not, was a correspondingly heavy 
assault of Bate's and part of Walker's divisions, sup- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ported by the rest of Walker's and the whole of 
Cheatham's, against Sherman's right flank. There 
was a decided repulse in each case. The scales were 
thus evenly balanced. 

After the failure of Hardee on the afternoon of 
May 28th, he withdrew within his own intrenchments, 
and, besides the skirmish firing which was almost in- 
cessant during those days, no other regular attack 
for some time was made. 

On the 30th, shortly before midnight, Hardee made 
a moderate demonstration against our lines, possibly 
in the belief that we were evacuating, but finding the 
men in their places and on the alert, he desisted. 

Thus matters remained until June 1st, when Sher- 
man's characteristic movement from right to left be- 
gan again in good earnest, and McPherson left the 
Dallas line and marched over beyond us all to relieve 
and support the troops which were lying between New 
Hope Church and Pickett's Mill. The last three 
battles — New Hope, Pickett's Mill, and Dallas — were 
at best but a wearisome waste of life and strength, 
blows given and taken in the dark without visible 

Steadily the movement of the Union army toward 
the left, for the purpose of reaching the railroad, had 
been continued, and, at last, on June 1, 1864, the dili- 
gent McPherson fully relieved Hooker's corps and my 
own remaining divisions, and spread his men so as to 
guard all that part of the line lately occupied by 
Hooker, Schofield, and myself. In this he was still 
assisted by Jeff. C. Davis's division. Thomas and 
Schofield were then free for the leftward operation. 

Schofield with his three divisions of the Twenty- 
third Corps promptly marched away eastward ; Hooker 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

followed and supported him as far as the " Burnt Hick- 
ory Church," at the point where the AUatoona wagon 
road crosses that from Burnt Hickory to Marietta. 

Schofield now promptly deployed his line and 
pushed southward toward Marietta, his left en route 
touching the Marietta wagon road. Every foot of his 
way was contested by skirmishing Confederates, but 
now, slowly and steadily, without general battle, the 
enemy was forced back to a partially new intrenched 
position, south of AUatoona Creek, back as far as the 
forks of the Dallas-Ackworth road. Here, charging 
across the creek in a terrific thunderstorm, Schofield's 
men forced their way close up to the Confederate 
works. They were as near to them as 250 yards, te- 
naciously holding the ground gained and actively 
intrenching. Meanwhile, Stoneman, beyond Schofield, 
with his cavalry had already seized the village of Al- 
latoona, near the pass, getting there June 1st, where, 
taking a strong position, the work of repairing the 
railroad northward and southward began, and pro- 
gressed with little or no opposition. 

At the time Schofield and Hooker were steadily 
advancing, Thomas was also moving the rest of us 
to the left from the vicinity of Pickett's Mill, Thomas 
being on the lead himself with Baird's division. 
Thomas's army in this effort gained ground eastward 
about three miles. 

Sherman's forces were then in position by June 
3d to catch in flank the Confederate line of intrench- 
ments, which still were manned, and extended from 
Pickett's Mill first due east and then almost north. 

When on that date Johnston learned of the exten- 
sion of Schofield's and Hooker's commands, he saw 
that his old position, that of New Hope, was no longer 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

tenable. Now, leaving New Hope, lie began to move 
back with remarkable quickness to the new line par 
tially prepared by his engineers. This line, about ten 
miles long, ran, in general, from southwest to north 
east, and was doubtless intended only for a temporary 

At last, McPherson, still going toward the east, 
reached and followed the Ackworth Eailroad, and then 
moved out and went beyond us all near to Bush 

Thomas, after another leftward effort, was next' 
in place to McPherson, near to and advancing upon 
Pine Top, while Schofield remained nearer the angle at j 
Gilgal Church. Our line, like that of the Confeder 
ates', was about ten miles long, and conformed to all 
the irregularities of Johnston's intrenchments. The 
Georgia mud was deep, the water stood in pools, and 
it was hard to get fires to cook our food and dry spots 
sufficiently large upon which to spread a tent fly or 
soldier's blanket. 

A young man from Boston who joined me, Mr. 
Frank Gilman, and who became my private secretary, 
though well and strong when he arrived, and full of 
patriotic fervor, with an earnest desire to remain, 
could not bear the wear and tear of our mud bivouac 
here near Big Shanty. He lost his appetite and little 
by little his flesh; then, being attacked by chills and 
fever, was obliged to seek the hospital, and, finally, to 
save his life, he returned to his home. But the most of 
the soldiers were now veterans, and so inured to hard- 
ships that the mud and water seemed hardly to affect 
them at all ; they thought the soft places around the 
camp fires preferable for beds to the rough rocks 
which they had had a few days before. 



Battle of Pickett's Mill 

On June 14tli, Sherman, after reconnoitering the 
lines of the enemy as well as he could in rough ground 
and forest, with a view to finding a weak place through 
which to force a column, came to my temporary sta- 
tion near Pine Top. He noticed that several of us 
had been for some time watching in plain sight some 
Confederate intrenchments and a group of Confeder- 
ate gentlemen about 600 yards from our position, and 
some evidently observing us with their good-sized field 
glasses. Sherman said to me : " How saucy they 
are ! " He told me to make them keep behind cover, 
and one of my batteries was iromediately ordered to 
fire three volleys on the group. This would have been 
done by me, except that Thomas had instructed me to 
use artillery ammunition only when absolutely neces- 

It would appear from the Confederate accounts 
that Johnston had ridden from Marietta with Hardee 
and Polk till he reached Pine Mountain (Pine Top). 
Quite a number of persons had gathered around them 
as they were surveying us and our lines. Johnston 
first noticed the men of my batteries preparing to fire, 
and cautioned his companions and the soldiers near 
him to scatter. They for the most part did so, and he 
himself hurried under cover. But Polk, who was quite 
stout and very dignified, walked slowly, probably be- 
cause he did not wish the men to see him showing too 
much anxiety on account of the peril. While leisurely 
walking, he was struck in the breast by a fragment 
of an exploded shell, and was instantly killed. 

"We were apprised of Polk's death by our vigilant 
and skillful signal officers, who, having gained the key 
to the Confederate signals, could just read their mes- 
sages to each other : " Why don't you send me an am- 


Autobiography oi Gen. O. O. Howard 

bulance for General Polk's body? " was the one from 
Pine Top. In this way the story that Sherman him- 
self had fired the gun that killed Polk, which was 
circulated for a time with much persistency, was 

Nobody on the Union side knew who constituted 
the group. The distance was too great to distinguish 
whether the irregular company, at which the volleys 
were fired, was composed of officers or soldiers. 

What Sherman and I noticed and remarked upon 
more than any gathering of men, were the little tents 
which were pitched in plain sight on our side of the 
hill-crest. It seemed to us unusually defiant. After 
our cannon firing the hostile tents disappeared. 

On June 15th, Thomas, of whose command my 
corps and Hooker's formed a part, was near Pine Top. 
Hooker's men had carried some Confederate works 
after a struggle, accompanied by rifle firing and can- 
nonading. These works, some of them detached, con- 
nected Johnston's principal line from Lost Mountain 
with Pine Top. 

Schofield, about the same time, drove a line of 
skirmishers away from a small bare hill near Alla- 
toona Creek, placed his artillery upon it, and thence 
worked a cross fire into the enemy's intrenchments, 
driving Johnston's men, thus newly exposed in flank, 
back to near Gilgal Church. We were all along so 
close to our enemy that the constant skirmish fire of 
the New Hope line was here repeated. In the mean- 
time, Johnston, continuing his inimitable defensive 
and, delaying tactics, had prepared another new line 
along Mud Creek. This line followed the east bank 
of this creek, and was extended so much as to 
cross the direct wagon road between New Hope and 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

Marietta. It was the same line that ran from Lost 

Here Hardee, who had now retired to the new works, 
on the night of the 16th posted his batteries. The 
position covered the open ground toward us on the 
other side of the creek for a mile, and through this 
open ground the road coursed along, running between 
some steep hills that shaped the valley. There stood 
near by one bare hill, almost as high as the bluff where 
the Confederate batteries were posted, apparently un- 
occupied or weakly held. This was the position of 
Hardee on the morning of June 17th. It was formed 
by a dropping back of Hardee's men after being re- 
lieved from their place held the previous day. They 
had fallen back some three miles to cross " Muddy 
Eun." Our observation of what was going on was so 
close that no time was lost in following up Hardee's 
backward movement, Thomas and Schofield, now in 
the right wing of our army, early in the morning of 
the 17th went straight forward, skirmishing with 
Jackson's cavalry and driving it before them, until 
they reached the Marietta Crossroads. Cox (of 
Schofield's), with his division, was feeling forward for 
the new right flank of Hardee. 

Soon the valley of Mud Creek was reached, and 
the Confederate batteries on the bluff were exposed 
to full view. Schofield's men made a rapid rush across 
the open ground to the shelter of the "bare hill" 
above referred to ; there they lay for a time under its 
protection. They were well formed in two lines — 
while Cockerell's battery and another from Hooker's 
for over an hour were storming the batteries of the 
enemy and gradually advancing their guns. 

Here it was that Cockerell took advantage of the 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

bare hilltop as a natural breastwork. Unlimbering 
out of sight, he opened his fire, with only the muzzles 
of the guns exposed. His keen perception of this ad- 
vantage saved his men, while the other battery, expos- 
ing itself fully on the crest, lost heavily. 

The guns opposite Cockerell were silenced; then 
the deployment of our infantry was continued. My 
own corps (the Fourth) as well as the Twentieth 
(Hooker's) were occupied during this forward swing. 
Having left their Pine Top lines early in the morning 
of the 17th, they marched at first substantially abreast. 
Hooker, having the right, sped over the abandoned 
intrenchments of the enemy, and turning gradually to- 
ward the southeast, so as to face Hardee's refused 
lines, was coming upon the Confederates, who were 
already in place, as we have seen, behind Mud Creek, 
and strongly posted. I did the same on Hooker's 
left flank. 

Palmer's corps (the Fourteenth) came up also on 
my left as soon as there was room. Thus Thomas 
with the Third Corps worked forward with his left 
touching the Ackworth Eailroad, and soon made all 
proper connections with McPherson, who was advan- 
cing on the other side of the same railway. 

Part of my corps (General C. G. Harker's brig- 
ade), at this time under the cover of a heavy artillery 
fire instituted by the division commander, charged 
a portion of Hardee's salient angle with great vigor, 
effected a lodgment in part of it, where the roads gave 
him some protection, and then carried and held sev- 
eral rods of these works, capturing the defenders. 

This was one of the few cases in which intrench- 
ments, strongly constructed and well manned were 
during the war, carried by direct front assaults. 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

I first remarked the neatness of Barker's brigade, 
even during our rough field duty. At inspections and 
musters his men had on white gloves, and excelled the 
lauded Eastern troops in the completeness and good 
order of their equipments. The unusual pains taken 
by him and his brigade to appear clean and properly 
attired and well equipped did not, as we observed, de- 
tract from its energy and success in action. 

In the afternoon Ed. McCook's cavalry followed 
up this success by getting around the left flank of Har- 
dee, and pursued his cavalry down along the Dallas- 
Marietta wagon road and across Mud Creek. McCook 
in his venturesome sallies succeeded in getting within 
five or six miles of Marietta. He captured two hos- 
pitals with five commissioned officers and thirty-five 
men, also several attendants and nurses. 

While securing these partial successes I saw, near 
my right, the most remarkable feat performed by any 
troops during the campaign. Baird's division (Pal- 
mer's corps), in a comparatively open field, put forth 
a heavy skirmish line, which continued such a rapid 
fire of rifles as to keep down a corresponding well-de- 
fended Confederate line of men, while the picks and 
shovels behind Baird's skirmishers fairly flew, till a 
good set of works was made but 300 or 400 yards 
distant from the enemy's and parallel to it. 

After the action at Mud Creek, above described, 
with the forcing back of Hardee's flank, the situation 
was dangerous for Johnston. He, however, had for- 
tified, with his usual foresight, another new defensive 
position nearer to Marietta, and work was going on 
in that quarter while the battle of the 17th was raging. 
Colonel Prestman, Johnston's military chief of en- 
gineers, had traced the proposed intrenchments, which 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

were destined for the last stand of the Confederates 
before the abandonment of Marietta; it was their last 
strong defense north of the Chattahoochee. 

Meanwhile, early on June 18th our batteries were 
put under cover on the hills in front of Hardee's 
salient angle. This angle was in front of Palmer's 
and my corps, so that our guns, which we had located 
the preceding day, could play with an enfilading fire 
upon the Confederate works. After some cannonad- 
ing, seeing the evident intention of a further move- 
ment to the rear, I thrust Newton's and Wood's divi- 
sions into action early in the day ; charging with great 
vigor, they captured the works in their front, taking 
about 100 prisoners. 

Confederate efforts by countercharges and battery 
firing were made to delay our advance, but all at- 
tempts were frustrated and the enemy each time re- 
pulsed. The brigade of the enterprising Harker al- 
ready held the intrenchments which he had captured, 
and seeing the great advantage of securing them, I 
hurried in the whole of Newton's division. 

The situation then was such that Johnston could 
no longer delay his retrograde movement. 

Just before Johnston left Muddy Creek, Sherman 
declared : " His " (Johnston's) " left was his weak point 
so long as he acted on the ' defensive ' ; whereas, had 
he designed to contract the extent of his line for the 
purpose of getting in a reserve force with which to 
strike * offensively ' from his right, he would have done 
a wise act, and I" (Sherman) "was compelled to pre- 
sume that such was his object." 

On the afternoon of the 20th, Kirby's brigade of 
Stanley's division was holding " Bald Knob," a prom- 
inent knoll in our front. The Confederates, using ar- 


Battle of Pickett's Mill 

tillery and plenty of riflemen, suddenly, just about 
sundown, made a spring for that knoll. Kirby's men 
were taken by surprise and were driven back with 
loss. The enemy quickly fortified the position and 
thus had a break in Sherman's line, where the enemy 
the next morning could follow up this advantage and 
begin an offensive movement for which we were not 
prepared. I was much annoyed, and as soon as 
Thomas and Sherman heard of the break they were 
also worried. I telegraphed Thomas that I would re- 
cover that " Bald Knob " on the morrow without fail. 
I ordered General Wood on the right of the Knob 
to have his left brigade (Nodine's) ready under arms 
before sunrise, and Stanley to have Kirby's brigade 
there in front and to the left of the Knob also under 
arms and prepared to make an assault. One of 
Wood's artillery officers spent the night in putting in 
place four cannon and covering them by a strong field 
work, just in the edge of heavy timber near his left 
and well to the front, whence he could shell the en- 
emy now intrenched on the Knob. Very early, with 
a couple of staff officers, my faithful orderly, McDon- 
ald, and private secretary, J. A. Sladen, Thirty-third 
Massachusetts (afterwards my aid-de-camp), I rode 
to the four-gun battery; leaving my comrades I took 
a stand on the improvised fort where I could see and 
direct every move. A Confederate battery shelled 
us fearfully and we replied with vigor. My situation 
was so perilous that my officers entreated me to leave 
it and get a safer place. But in this particular action 
I would not, for I wanted to be with my men in the 
action when it came on. When Kirby's skirmishers 
were well out, and Nodine's also, and our battery 
very active filling the air over the Knob with burst- 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

ing shells, I saw an officer standing behind Nodine's 
line not far from me. I mistook him for Colonel No- 
dine; I called him to me, and as soon as he was near 
enough to hear my voice amid the roar and rattle of 
the conflict, I said : " Colonel, can't you now rush your 
men forward and seize that Bald Knob ? " 

He answered : " Yes, sir, I can." 

I then said : " Go ahead ! " 

He sounded the advance and all the men of the 
Fifteenth Ohio Infantry sprang forward, and, at a 
run, within fifteen minutes had crowned the knoll. It 
was Colonel Frank Askew, and he had done with 200 
men what I had intended Nodine to do with his en- 
tire brigade. Leaving orders for Nodine and Kirby 
to hurry up their brigades, I mounted and, followed 
by McDonald and Sladen, galloped to the front and 
stayed there with the gallant Fifteenth Ohio men till 
the reenforcements with shovels and picks had joined 
them. The suddenness of our charge and the quick- 
ness of our riflemen cleared the " Bald Knob " and 
restored the continuity of Sherman's front. 

The concentration of Johnston's forces compelled 
us at this time to be on the lookout for just such oifen- 
sive movements. 

Before, however, bringing our troops forward into 
immediate contact with the Kenesaw barricades and 
abatis, it is necessary to give an account of an affair 
which cost many lives ; only a drawn battle was fought, 
but it was fraught with consequences which seriously 
affected the remainder of the campaign. The affair 
is usually denominated " Kolb's " or " Culp's Farm," 
and took place June 22, 1864. 





rilHE weather continued stormy, and it was not until 
-*• June 22, 1864, that any positive advance could 
be made. On that date, as he often did, Sherman rode 
from end to end of our line, in order that he might 
thoroughly understand the position of his army. 

He ordered Thomas to advance his right corps, 
which was Hooker's; and he instructed Schofield by 
letter to keep his whole army as a strong right flank 
in close support of Hooker's deployed line. It will 
be remembered that Schofield's Twenty-third Corps 
at this time constituted Sherman's extreme right. 

Hooker came next leftward, and then my corps. 
Hooker, in accordance with his orders, pressed for- 
ward his troops in an easterly direction, touching on 
my right. 

There was heavy skirmish firing along the whole 
front. As Hooker went forward he first drove in the 
enemy's cavalry. The movement was necessarily 
slow and bothersome; and at 2.30 p.m. the contest be- 
came very hot. The enemy took a new stand near 
Manning's Mill about 5 p.m. The Confederate ad- 
vance was made boldly in force. 

During the progress of this engagement, which 
became an assault upon Hooker's right flank, he called 
upon me for some help, asking me to relieve his left 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

division (Butterfield's), so that it might be sent off 
for a reenf or cement to his right. This request I com- 
plied with at once, using every regiment of mine not 
then in line. These replacing troops were five regi- 
ments of Colonel Grose's brigade. 

In this manner Hooker was given the whole of But- 
terfield's division for a reserve, or for resting any 
troops that had been long engaged; so his left flank 
was thoroughly secured. 

Just as soon as the Union troops all along these 
lines had recovered from the first shock of the battle 
and re-formed wherever broken, so as to restore the 
unity of their defense, all hands became confident. 
In those places where the small breaks had occurred, 
several attempts were made by Hood to reanimate 
his men and push on, but all in vain. This was called 
the battle of Kolb's Farm. In this battle, at one time 
the firing, on a part of my corps front, was rapid. 
I rode to a high plateau where I could see considerable 
of the ground where the contest was sharpest. I had 
sent my staff away with important messages, and had 
with me only my orderly, McDonald, and my secretary, 
Sladen. We three were on our horses, anxiously 
watching the results of the Confederate attacks, my 
horse being a few yards ahead of the others. Sud- 
denly McDonald rode up to my side and said : " Gen- 
eral, I am wounded." 

"Where, McDonald?" 

"In my left foot, sir, right through the instep." 

He was very pale and evidently suffering intensely. 
He looked me in the face, and in a low voice said: 
" General Howard, I shall die from this wound ! " 

"Oh, no, McDonald, you will not die! A wound 
like that through the foot is very painful, but not 


Battle of Kolb's Farm and Kenesaw 

fatal. You go back to the field hospital, and when 
this battle is over I will visit you there." 

After he began to ride back from me, he turned 
his horse about, and, with tears bedimming his eyes, 
he looked in my face again and said : " Oh, general, I 
am so glad I was wounded and not you ! " 

When, near sunset, I went to the field hospital, 
I learned that McDonald had been sent back with other 
wounded to the general hospital on the top of Look- 
out Mountain. And he did die from that severe 
wound and was buried among " the unknown." 

Some very peculiar controversies, in which Sher- 
man, Thomas, Schofield, and Hooker were involved, 
grew out of this battle. 

During the battle. Hooker was asked by Sherman 
from a signal station: "How are you getting along? 
Near what house are you?" 

He replied as follows : " Kolb's House, 5.20 p.m. 
"We have repulsed two heavy attacks and feel confi- 
dent, our only apprehension being from our extreme 
right. Three entire corps are in front of us." 

This latter dispatch was not received by Sherman 
until after the battle, about 9.20 p.m. He then wrote 
to Thomas, who was Hooker's army commander. 
After citing to Thomas two dispatches, he telegraphed 
as follows: 

I was at the Wallace House at 5.30 and the Kolb House 
was within two miles, and though I heard some cannonading I 
had no idea of his being attacked ; and General Hooker must be 
mistaken about three entire corps being in his front. John- 
ston's army has only three corps, and I know there was a very 
respectable force along McPherson's front, so much so that his 
generals thought the enemy was massing against them. I 
know there was some force in front of Palmer and Howard, for 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

I was there. Still, it is very natural the enemy should meet 
Hooker at that point in force, and I gave Schofield orders this 
morning to conduct his column from Nose's Creek, on the 
Powder Springs road, toward Marietta and support Hooker's 
right flank, sending his cavalry down the Powder Springs road 
toward Sweet Water and leaving some infantry from his rear to 
guard the forks. . . . 

It was natural for Hooker to make reply, for Sher- 
man had asked questions of him. And, naturally, at 
such a time there was some excitement at Hooker's 
headquarters. As soon as Sherman received this dis- 
turbing message directly from Hooker, he first an- 
swered thus : 

Dispatch received. Schofield was ordered this morning to 
be on the Powder Springs and Marietta road, in close support 
of your right. Is not this the case? There cannot be three 
corps in your front; Johnston has but three corps, and I know 
from full inspection that a full proportion is now, and has been 
all day, on his right and center. 

Sherman also sent for his adjutant general. Cap- 
tain Dayton, and made inquiry as to whether or not 
those most important orders had been sent to Schofield 
and received by him. Dayton immediately brought 
him the envelope which had on it the receipt of Sher- 
man's instructions, signed by Schofield himself. 

After that assurance, Sherman was more confident 
than ever that the Army of the Ohio had been all the i 
time in place, and close up to Hooker's right flank. 

When Sherman had passed from his left to his] 
right, he had found evidence to satisfy him that Con- 
federate Loring held all the long breastworks of the! 
Confederate right opposite McPherson; Hardee held] 
the center and much of the left opposite Thomas's] 


Battle of Kolb's Farm and Kenesaw 

three corps, which were in line from left to right, 
viz.. Palmer's, Howard's, and Hooker's. Hood had 
simply passed partially beyond Hardee's left and 
come up to make his reconnoissance and attack, so 
that Hooker's men encountered only a part of Hood's 
and a part of Hardee's commands. 

Schofield breasted the remainder of Hood's divi- 
sions and the cavalry of Wheeler, which supported 
Hood's moving left flank. In view of these plain facts 
Sherman was incensed that Hooker should have made 
such a fulsome report, and some words of Thomas 
increased his vexation — words that we find in a letter 
written by Thomas to Sherman himself, about ten 
o'clock the same night, for example : 

I sent you a dispatch after my return to my headquarters 
this morning that Hooker reported he had the whole rebel army 
in his front. I thought at the time he was stampeded, but in 
view of the probability that the enemy might believe that we 
intended to make the real attack on our right, and would oppose 
us with as much of his force as he could spare, I ordered one 
division of Howard's to be relieved by Palmer and placed in 
reserve behind Hooker. 

Hooker's position is a very strong one, and before I left him 
he certainly had his troops as well together as Howard has had 
for the last three days, and Howard has repulsed every attack 
the enemy has made on him in very handsome style. . . . The 
enemy cannot possibly send an overwhelming force against 
Hooker without exposing his weakness to McPherson. 

Taking these things into account, Sherman took 
occasion the next day after the battle (June 23d) to 
ride down to Kolb's Farm, fully determined in his 
own sharp way to call Hooker to an account for his 
exaggerations. Sherman's determination to do so 
was increased when he found Hooker had used during 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

the combat but two of his own divisions, for Butter- 
field's, kept back in reserve, had not been engaged at 
all during the day. Again, he saw, as before reported, 
one of Schofield's divisions properly placed abreast 
of Hooker's right, constituting what Sherman denomi- 
nated a strong right flank. 

Just after this personal reconnoissance, with its re- 
sults in his mind, Sherman met both Schofield and 
Hooker near there on the field of battle. At once 
Sherman showed Hooker's dispatch to Schofield. 
Sherman said : " Schofield was very angry, and pretty 
sharp words passed between them," i. e., Schofield 
and Hooker. Schofield insisted that he had not only 
formed a strong right flank, as ordered, but that in the 
primary engagement the head of his column, part of 
Haskell's division, had been in advance of Hooker's 
corps, and were entitled to that credit. He affirmed, 
also, that dead men from his army were yet lying up 
there on the ground to show where his lines had 

Hooker, thus called to account, made answer, apolo- 
getically, that he did not know this when he sent the 
dispatch. But Sherman, considering that the orig- 
inal statement of Hooker had reflected to his hurt upon 
an army commander without cause, and that Hooker's 
exaggeration had led Thomas to weaken other por- 
tions of his line — something that might have led to 
disaster — and that the dispatch came near causing 
him to do the same as Thomas, administered in his 
own blunt manner a caustic reprimand. 

Sherman, as I think, was unaware of his own se- 
verity. He justified himself in this phrase: "I re- 
proved him more gently than the occasion warranted." 
The result of this reproof was that from that date to 


Battle of Kolb's Farm and Kenesaw 

July 27tli following, Hooker felt aggrieved. On that 
day he was relieved, at his own request, by General 
A, S. Williams. 

This battle of Kolb's Farm was wholly on the 
Kenesaw line extended southward. Sherman, on ac- 
count of guerrilla and cavalry attacks far in his rear, 
upon his own line of railroad, was greatly distressed 
concerning his communications. They were not se- 
cure enough, he declared, to permit him to break away 
from his base of supplies. 

The Kenesaw Mountain — sometimes called the 
Kenesaws, probably on account of an apparent cross 
break in the range giving apparently two mountains 
— is the highest elevation in Georgia, west of the 
Chattahoochee. It is the natural watershed, and was 
in 1864, upon its sides, mostly covered with trees. 
From its crest Johnston and his officers could see our 
movements, which were believed to be hidden; they 
have recorded accounts of them in wonderful detail. 
The handsome village of Marietta, known to Sherman 
in his youth, lying eastward between the mountain 
and the river, could be plainly seen. Johnston could 
not have found a stronger defensive position for his 
great army. 

Prior to the battle of Kolb's Farm the entire Con- 
federate army had taken substantially its new line; 
the Confederate right, which abutted against Brush 
Mountain on the north, took in the Kenesaw ; the line 
passing down the southern slope of that mountain, con- 
tinued on to the neighborhood of Olley's Creek. It 
was virtually a north and south bending alignment, 
convex toward us. Its right was protected by rough 
Brush Mountain and Noonday Creek. Its center had 
Nose's Creek in front of it, but the strength of its 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

almost impregnable part was in the natural fortress 
of the south slope of Kenesaw. 

The intrenchments or breastworks everywhere, 
whatever you call those Confederate protecting con- 
trivances, were excellent. They had along the front- 
ing slopes abundant " slashings," that is, trees felled 
toward us with limbs embracing each other, trimmed 
or untrimmed, according to whichever condition would 
be worse for our approach. Batteries were so placed 
as to give against us both direct and cross fires. 

To my eye, Kenesaw there, at the middle bend of 
Johnston's long line, was more difificult than any por- 
tion of Gettysburg's Cemetery Eidge, or Little Round 
Top, and quite as impossible to take. From extreme 
to extreme, that is, from the Confederate infantry 
right to the actual left in a straight line, must have 
been six miles. 

The reports show that Johnston had just before 
the battle of Kenesaw received reenforcements from 
the Georgia militia under G. W. Smith. His num- 
bers at this terrible battle are not now easily discov- 
ered, but standing so much as Johnston did on the 
defensive behind the prepared works, his losses were 
hardly ever as great as ours ; so that, I think, at Kene- 
saw he had as many men as at Resaca. My judg- 
ment is confirmed by the surprisingly long defensive 
line which he occupied. Hood, at first, had the right, 
covering all the wagon approaches and trails from 
Ackworth and the north, and the wagon and rail- 
roads that ran between Brush Mountain and the 

Loring, the Confederate commander who now re- 
placed Polk, for his custody and defense had all the 
Kenesaw front, including the southern sloping crest 


Battle of Kolb's Farm and Kenesaw 

and the ground passing beyond the Marietta and Can- 
ton wagon road. 

Hardee's corps began there, crossed the next high- 
way (the Marietta and Lost Mountain road), and 
gradually drew back till his left was somewhere be- 
tween Kolb's Farm and Zion's Church, that part of his 
force looking into the valley of Olley's Creek. 

On our side, Blair, with his Seventeenth Corps, had 
now come to us from the west. He brought enough 
men to compensate for Sherman's previous losses; 
so that, like Johnston, Sherman had about the same 
numbers as at Resaca. The Army of the Tennessee, 
with Blair on the left, faced Hood. A short distance 
beyond, eastward, was Garrard's cavalry, trying to 
keep back the Confederate cavalry of Wheeler. 

Thomas, with his three Union corps, touched the 
middle bend opposite Loring and part of Hardee. 
Hooker's corps made Thomas's right; then came, on 
the extreme right, the Twenty-third Corps and Stone- 
man's cavalry, under Schofield. The Union right, al- 
ready by June 20th reached as far south as Olley's 
Creek. The whole infantry stretch of Sherman's 
front was at that time fully eight miles. 

There are four distinct combats which ought to 
come into this battle of Kenesaw: 

1. The combat with Wheeler's cavalry near Brush 

2. The cavalry combat against Jackson. 

3. The battle of Kolb's Farm on June 22d. 

4. Our determined attacks and repulses at differ- 
ent points all along the Kenesaw line during June 

General Sherman's field orders notified us that he 
and his staff would be " near Kenesaw Mountain " on 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

June 27th. I recall, in general, the character of 
the country near to Kenesaw, mostly wild, hilly, and 
rugged, and thickly covered with virgin trees, oak and 
chestnut, with here and there a clearing made for a 
small farm, or a bald opening that seemed to have 
come of itself, though I but dimly remember Sherman's 
temporary headquarters, which were fixed on Signal 
Hill for a few days only. 

Mr. J. C. Van Duzer (a superintendent of tele- 
graph lines) telegraphed to the Assistant Secretary of 
War at 9.30 p.m. on June 24th : " Sherman moved to a 
point in field three miles west of Marietta, and Thomas 
to a new headquarters camp half a mile farther to 
our right, about the same distance from Marietta." 

Van Duzer thus, by the wires keeping up his con- 
nection with Washington, united our commands. He 
used for us what was called the " field line " of tele- 
graph wire, and connected his railroad line with Sher- 
man, and Sherman with Thomas half a mile distant, 
and with Schofield, at least two miles in the same 
direction; also northward from Sherman two miles 
with McPherson. 

Here, then, like the arrangements of Von Moltke 
in the Franco-Prussian War, we have our commander 
in a central position on high ground, about one mile 
in our rear, connecting his spreading rays in fan- 
shaped order with his army commanders; and they 
by signal stations and swift messengers with their 
corps commanders, the latter with division leaders, 
and so on to include brigades and regiments. 

Johnston did well to go up to the Kenesaw crest. 
Here he had in the battle similar but better advan- 
tages over Sherman than Meade had over Lee from 
the famous Cemetery Hill. 


Battle of Kolb's Farm and Kenesaw 

Sherman's plan was, as ordered, for Thomas to 
make a heavy assault at the center with his army while 
McPherson made a feint on the left and Schofield a 
threatened attack on the right. Orders: 

I. The corps of Major General Howard will assault the en- 
emy's intrenchments at some point near the left of Stanley's 
and Davis's divisions, which will be selected by General Howard 
after a careful reconnoissance. He will support his attack by 
such disposition of his artillery as, in his judgment, is best cal- 
culated to insure success. 

II. Major General Palmer will, with his column on the right 
of General Howard's, cooperate with the latter by carrying the 
enemy's works immediately in his front. The batteries of Gen- 
eral Baird's and Davis's divisions will remain as at present posted 
until the contemplated movement is made. General King's 
division will occupy its present position, but hold itself in readi- 
ness to follow up any advantage gained by the other troops. 

III. Major General Hooker will support General Palmer on 
the latter's right with as much of his force as he can draw from 
his Unes, selecting positions for his artillery best calculated to 
enfilade the enemy's works to his left and on General Palmer's 
front. In supporting General Palmer's movement, General 
Hooker will watch carefully his own right flank, and be pre- 
pared to meet any demonstration of the enemy upon it. 

IV. The troops must get into position as early as possible 
and commence the movement at 8 a.m. to-morrow, precisely. 
All the troops will be ready to follow up with promptness any 
success which may be gained. 

I will risk wearying the reader by quoting here my 
own brief orders for the same battle: 

In pursuance of instructions from headquarters, Army of 
the Cumberland, an attack will be made upon the enemy to- 
morrow at 8 A.M. by this corps (the Fourth) in conjunction 
with the Fourteenth Corps. The points of attack are selected 
near the present position of Colonel Grose's brigade. 


Autobiography of Gen. O. O. Howard 

II. General Newton will lead the assault, being prepared to 
cover his own left, 

III. Major General Stanley will retain one of his brigades 
in position extending from General Palmer's left to the ravine, 
and will be prepared, with his other two brigades well in hand, 
to follow closely General Newton's movements. 

IV. General Wood will occupy his present front and extend 
to the ravine on his right with one brigade, while he will hold 
his other two brigades in readiness to follow up the movement 
of the attacking column. 

V. The points for massing the troops of General Stanley's 
and Wood's divisions will be pointed out in the morning. 

General Newton will commence his movement for the attack 
at sunrise, keeping his troops as well concealed from the enemy's 
view as possible. 

Thomas and his two corps commanders most con- 
cerned, Palmer and I, were for hours closeted to- 
gether. I went with my division commander, Newton, 
and we examined the ground which our juniors had 
selected that seemed least objectionable. Newton used 
the column of regimental divisions, doubled on the 
center. That formation seemed best for the situation ; 
first, to keep the men concealed as well as possible 
beforehand and during the first third of the distance, 
the ground being favorable for this; second, to make 
as narrow a front as he could, so as to make a sudden 
rush with numbers over their works. But for the 
slashings, abatis, and other entanglements, all prov- 
ing to be greater obstacles than they appeared to our 
glasses, the little column would have lost but a few 
men before arriving at the barricades. Had they 
done so, and broken through the Confederate works, 
as our men did in the night fight in Lookout Valley, 
and as Harker's men did at Muddy Creek, deployed 


Battle of Kolb's Farm and Kenesaw 

lines were ready to follow up the forlorn hope and 
gain a success. 

At a preconcerted signal the columns pushed rap- 
idly forward, driving in the enemy's skirmishers, and 
were not checked until they reache